The joint investigation team (JIT), which probed Pakistan prime minister’s family business dealings, has found that the Sharif family was living beyond the known means of income and recommended reopening cases which were either closed or ignored for a prolonged period. The JIT report is now with the Supreme Court and the case to decide his future has commenced.
As calls for Sharif’s resignation grow (much to the happiness of the Opposition), the ruling party is busy going into huddle, awaiting the Supreme Court verdict.
Meanwhile, the public has been left wondering on the final outcome of the case. Bookies are busy placing bets on whether Sharif would resign, or will be overthrown, or will remain in power.
The only person whose authority has enhanced manifold is that of the army chief. His power is on the upswing, his control over the nation complete. It seems the only action left is to shift the capital from Islamabad to Rawalpindi.
During the ongoing turmoil, a genuine comment made by a little-known politician, Javed Hashmi, made sense, but the fear of the deep state compelled the media to ignore it.
He said: “While politicians are being held accountable, army chiefs and the judiciary are not.” The remarks though true and agreed upon by many Pakistanis, may soon mean the end of Hashmi’s career.
The judiciary has changed its policies with the change of rulers. It never questioned army takeovers, agreed to the implementation of illegal military courts, knowing it well that these court were awarding death sentences as though they were distributing Christmas gifts.
It has never been able to question army chiefs over their “misdeeds” while its own corruption could never be challenged nor questioned.
However, it has made damning comments on politicians, solely because they have the army’s backing.
The Pakistani army has lost every war against India and yet escaped any condemnations or resignations.
The man behind Pakistan’s defeat in Kargil, Parvez Musharraf, went on to become the president of the country. Which other nation would permit an individual responsible for the death of thousands of Northern Light Infantry soldiers (whose bodies he even refused to collect), to assume the topmost mantle of the state?
It is because of the army’s control over foreign policies and internal security that Pakistan is surrounded by enemies while moving deeper into an economic mess.
However, the army’s power prohibits anyone from questioning it even on social media, let alone publicly.
For now, Sharif is holding on to somehow. The first reaction of his supporters was to criticise the judiciary and the army for the decision of the JIT. It realised that though the two were working in tandem, it would be suicidal to condemn them. Hence, the focus was shifted to the JIT, which though influenced by the deep state is still a safer bet.
The army claims it has played no role, a comment which itself implies its influence over the entire episode.
However, until the case is finally disposed of, Sharif would remain under pressure, unsure of his future, unable to take decisions and most importantly incapable and scared to even question the army.
It is evident that any decision to bar Sharif from politics would also mean the end of the Sharif dynasty rule in Pakistan. Also, criminal actions could follow since his heir apparent, Maryam Nawaz, has also been indicted.
There are limited choices available to the family for his replacement, his brother possibly being the only one. If indicted, Sharif could follow Musharraf into obscurity to London or West Asia. Sharif always has had problems with army chiefs (with those he appointed overthrowing him in the past).
Will history repeat itself? Only time will tell.
To further add to the confusion, Imran Khan, the former cricketer who founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and a possible contender for the PM’s throne, has been declared a proclaimed offender by the court and his property ordered to be seized.
Although he is the army’s “pet”, Khan is unlikely to be the PM candidate. Thus, doors are open for the army chief to take the reins, either directly or indirectly.
Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa now has all the cards and is keeping them close to his chest. The final decision from the court would depend on how he visualises the future for himself, his army and the nation.
After all, they are all intrinsically linked.
For the region, instability would only increase, as the deep state would be unwilling to even discuss peace with any neighbour, seeking to meet its objectives by continuing support to terror groups with absolutely no political interference.
Although the deep state has witnessed continuous failures, it would still perforce since it has no other option.
Its actions in Kashmir appear to be meeting strong resistance. As Indian counter-actions are on the rise, there has been a surge in Pakistani army casualties too. Inducted militants are being culled at the border and those within are running for their lives. Such is the level of casualties within the army that it is unwilling to even share its figures.
Its support base of the Hurriyat is being rendered inoperable and its modules busted at frequent intervals. Hence, it is slowly losing the war in J&K even as the Indian Army regains control.
Also, tension is rising along its borders with Iran and Afghanistan. While Afghanistan is now a sworn enemy, Iran would follow suit shortly. The new amendment passed by the US Senate would restrict funds and support, thus ensuring it has no backing other than the Chinese.
Political turmoil in any nation impacts its economy and Pakistan is no exception.
Its markets are tumbling and the government would be able to do little to prevent a bloodbath hitting the stock market, in case Sharif is convicted.
Internationally, Pakistan would head deeper into trouble, as without a strong political leadership, the army would become uncontrollable and will only enhance enmity with neighbours.
Its only saviour would be China, which would get sucked deeper into a confused Pakistan, solely because of its immense investments.
South Asia would be the biggest loser, as a beleaguered elected government will be prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. For its neighbours, little would change, except enhanced enmity.
Its own populace would witness further internal turmoil as the battle for political supremacy will begin. The streets would be filled with both supporters and protestors giving rise to law and order problems.
The power of the army would prevent any criticism of its internal actions, even if it fails at every step.
As the battle between survival and criminal conviction gains strength, the road ahead for Pakistan seems bleak.
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