What next after Nawaz Sharif for Pakistan?

Has Pakistan turned a new leaf with the ouster of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister? Is there a real future for Pakistan sans corruption? The irony of it all is that Mian Nawaz Sharif, who has been disqualified “for life” by the Supreme Court under article 62 and article 63 of the constitution for not being “Sadiq” (honest) and “Ameen” (truthful) even before the corruption charges are proven against him, is the same man who protected and fought for retention of these very same articles tooth and nail when the opposition wanted them removed. These two articles were introduced into the constitution by none other than Nawaz Sharif’s political mentor General Zia-ul Haq.

Nawaz Sharif fell victim to his own devices. And the man to take him down was the one who, at one point in time, vehemently opposed articles 62 and 63. Imran Khan, in 2013, ahead of the elections, had said that the articles could lead to “political revenge” prior to the elections. “In my view, I can bend the entire assembly on 62 and 63 because you have to be an angel to pass that 62 and 63,” the Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman had said.

But the question that begs to be answered is: was this all a simple political battle or a bigger calculated, meticulously planned “coup” under the garb of fighting corruption?

It is believed in many quarters of Pakistan that the military establishment played a very important role in propping up Tahir ul Qadri and later supported Imran Khan in his endeavours of taking on the civilian dispensation. What else can justify a decision by the apex court on an issue that is yet to go to trial?

A decision on the basis of the articles that were never entertained by the courts in the past, making Nawaz Sharif the first to be removed on grounds of not being “honest” and “truthful”.

Two years ago, it was Justice Khosa who, in the Ishaq Khan Khakwani case, had described the words “Sadiq” and “Ameen” as obscure and impracticable and had also talked about “nightmares of interpretation and application that they involved”.

shehbaz-sharif_080217080926.jpgAnd while the not so ‘sharif’ (decent) Nawaz maybe out of the equation, ‘Sharif’ will still rule. Photo: Reuters

But the very same articles made sense when the five-judge bench wrote their 192-page dissenting note on the Panama papers case.

Essentially, if the military helped in bringing down an elected government, then it would only mean weakening of the political system and adversely affect Pakistan’s democratic health.

Further to that, we first saw a political structure subservient to the military establishment and now it has reached the bottom of the ladder with the Supreme Court also finding its space in the structural order of Pakistan and increasingly taking part in decisions of other wings of governance in Pakistan.

But, if we go by the past record of Nawaz Sharif, he is not a man unknown to the vagaries and anarchy in a democracy called Pakistan. Holding the distinction of being the only prime minister to be ousted first by the president (in 1993) then by the Pakistan Army (in 1999) and now by the judiciary, he has seen it all.

While the one man and his party who will gain a lot from the court verdict is Imran Khan and Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf, the banners and posters of Nawaz Sharif held up by PML(N) leaders in parliament when the interim Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbas sailed through with a majority vote shows the support Nawaz continues to enjoy.

Nawaz Sharif’s family and his political heir Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s political future could be in doubt with her name also in the Panama papers, but it is clear that the power will remain within the family with Shahbaz Sharif taking the reins after 45 days. Prime minister Abbas for now is a place holder.

And while the not so “sharif” (decent) Nawaz maybe out of the equation, “Sharif” will still rule. Finding order in a chaos that was self-made.

This city is what it is because our citizens are what they are – Plato

Also read – Pakistan crisis: What to expect from Nawaz Sharif’s no-nonsense brother Shahbaz