Don’t Target the Key Institutions to Divert Attention from ‘Corruption’
By Sajjad Shaukat
It is misfortune of the country that since July 28, 2017 when five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan announced its verdict in connection with the Panama Papers case and disqualified the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in relation to the charges of ‘corruption’, the deposed prime minister and head of the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), his daughter Maryam Nawaz, some ministers and leaders of his party are, continuously, targeting the key institutions of Pakistan. They are openly criticizing the judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, while without naming Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), they are, indirectly, censuring these security agencies.
Besides other aims, the major aim of these politicians is to divert the attention from corruption cases which are being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the ex-Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, his two sons, Hussain and Hasan, his daughter Maryam and her husband MNA Capt (r) Safdar, including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in light of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Panama Papers case.
Meanwhile, new Chairman of NAB, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal whose nomination to the post was accepted by almost all the mainstream political parties, said on November 15, 2017 that he has instructed the officials of the department to “pursue cases against the alleged criminals without worrying about external pressures and influences aiming to hinder the proceedings…some 96 mega corruption references were forwarded to courts, 25 are under probes and officials are investigating another 25 references…Pakistan is in debt of at least USD 84 billion and that those who have pocketed funds and resorted to graft would be brought to life…the accountability bureau would recover the ‘looted’ money and return to the national treasury.”
With the acceleration of the investigations and opening of the new cases of ‘corruption’ by the NAB, which were deliberately kept under the carpet, the former premier Nawaz Sharif and some other leaders of his party have also intensified severe criticism of the NAB, the verdict of the apex court and Army. He also decided to start addressing public processions. In a procession and through his statements of the recent past, he, repeatedly, targeted the key institutions of Pakistan by accusing them of a conspiracy against his family and government. He is misguiding the people and is provoking them against the Supreme Court and Pakistan Army.
While, leaders of the mainstream political parties such as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Jamaat-e-Islami have appreciated the verdict of the apex court and progress of the NAB in relation to the references of ‘corruption’ regarding Sharif family.
Dr. Muhammad Tahirul Qadri Chairman of the PAT who returned Pakistan on August 8, 2017, stated that he had come back to seek justice for the victims of the 2014 Model Town incident and their families. Notably, in June 2014, fourteen people, including several members of the PAT were killed by the policemen in Lahore. Dr. Tahirul Qadri had held the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif responsible for the Model Town incident and now, Lahore High Court has opened this case.
A majority of the political leaders of the various political parties, renowned persons and analysts has remarked that Nawaz Sharif wants to create anarchy in the country by creating a rift between the apex court and Army on one side and the government, PML-N and its workers on the other.
In this regard, PTI Chairperson Imran Khan said on October 10, this year, “Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is attacking institutions and weakening democratic institutions…Jews don’t need to indulge in conspiracies against Pakistan as long as people like Nawaz Sharif and Fazl-ur-Rehman are present…If the thieves keep getting protection, our only other democratic option is to come out on the streets…Sharif family has to account for about Rs 300 billion”, adding that “Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz has time and again lied regarding their properties…All proofs submitted by the Sharif family have been fake. From their trust deed to the Qatari letter all were fake…The prime minister [Shahid Khaqan Abbasi] is trying to save a disqualified and corrupt man…Nawaz and his ministers are bashing the army and Supreme Court to save the Sharif family’s corruption.”
Besides, senior politician of the PPP and leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah also condemned the premier Nawaz for criticizing the Supreme Court and Army and stated that P.M. Nawaz Sharif’s close aides—PML-N were conspiring against him.
Even, the brother of Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has repeatedly disfavoured the policy of confrontation adopted by Nawaz Sharif, which can directly or indirectly be construed as being disrespectful to state institutions. Maintaining that Pakistan cannot afford a clash between state institutions, he appealed to party supporters to abstain from constructing any such narrative which could damage the dignity of state institutions.
Taking note of the policy of confrontation with the apex court and Army, some leaders of his own party has abandoned the PML-N.
It is of particular attention that in a lengthy media briefing which covered wide ranging issues, including civil-military relations, the Director General of the Inter Services Publication Directorate (ISPR), Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said who also gave replies to various questions of the Journalists, clarified on October 5, 2017 by elaborating, “We have a role to play constitutionally, and we did. We obeyed whatever the Supreme Court had ordered us to do. Whoever’s domain anything falls in, they will solve it…The top court had appointed two members from the ISI and Military Intelligence to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that investigated the Sharifs, which was questioned widely by critics…Whatever order the army receives within the law and the Constitution, we are required to follow it…In that process, there was nothing that the army produced or gave.”
Replying to a question, he dismissed the possibility of a martial law as a result of the friction between army and civilian authorities, saying “it should not even be talked about…We are busy in doing our duty as stated in the Constitution.”
Giving reply to another question that no press release had been issued following a special corps commanders’ conference, held at Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) on October 4, 2017, Maj- Gen. Asif Ghafoor said, “Silence is also an expression.”
During the briefing, the ISPR DG also discussed the security threats at Pakistan’s eastern and western borders, and stated, “Hostile foreign agencies are hatching a terror plot in the country by using non-state actors to dent the gains made in the war against terror…the security forces with the help of the people are effectively countering all the internal and external threats facing the nation,” and expressed the hope “the country will overcome all the challenges.”
Similarly, in a press conference on October 14, this year, ISPR DG Asif Ghafoor said, “The Pakistan Army is a state institution and it is very important to sit and talk about things…If we need to improve the economy, we will have to bring certain changes and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor needs to be supported…We have all done a lot of work for the economy. And I have said the same thing: we have to sit together. It is a very simple [request]: that everyone needs to cooperate…The army chief told the traders [at the seminar] in informal talk that everyone should play their role [for the country’s economic betterment]. He told them to pay their taxes…When I say something here; I am speaking on behalf of the armed forces. I am not speaking in a personal capacity…There is no threat to democracy from the Pakistan Army; [but] there could be a threat to democracy if its [democracy’s] requirements are not being met…I want to add that there needs to be stability. The government needs to continue and an established democratic system needs to continue…I have to say this because there are a lot of rumours abut martial law and [the installation of a] technocratic government…When it comes to Pakistan, the security and survival of Pakistan, we all are one. Every Pakistani and every institution is one against them…the outside forces should know this.”
Earlier, referring to the meeting of corps commanders held at the GHQ in Rawalpindi on August 7, 2017, ISPR DG stated that Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that Pakistan Army will uphold “supremacy of Constitution and rule of law.”
It is notable that in 2014, when PTI led by Imran Khan and PAT by Dr. Tahirul Qadri were observing sit-ins at Islamabad for removal of the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the protesters tuned to violence which resulted into killings of several individuals by the Police, including assaults on the reporters and the Pakistan Television (PTV), a state-owned media enterprise. At that time, some politicians and most of the media anchors had continuously been misguiding the general masses by indicating that the ongoing system of democracy could be derailed, and martial law could be imposed in the country. Even, some top officials of the ruling party, PML-N had, indirectly, blamed that Army and ISI were behind Tahirul Qadari and Imran Khan’s long marches, and sit-ins in Islamabad. But, no martial law was imposed. And, all presumptions that Army and ISI were behind the sit-ins proved untrue.
Undoubtedly, the Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan province and Karachi. Army and ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. These operations are obtaining their objectives effectively and rapidly.
However, owing to the successful operations of Pak Army and the Rangers, peace has been restored in Balochistan and Karachi, including other vulnerable regions, especially the tribal areas.
But, recent blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage to destabilize Pakistan and to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Nonetheless, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan, killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits, particularly the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL), and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements, and all these outfits are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities against Pakistan. As part of the double game, CIA, RAW, Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits in weakening Pakistan and especially Balochistan in order to fulfill the covert strategic aims of the US-led India and Israel against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.
Nevertheless, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have been facing a different war, while enemy is also different, which employs subversive activities of various kinds which also include internal and external challenges. In these terms, Pakistan is in the state of new war, being waged by the Armed Forces and intelligence agencies against terrorists.
From time to time, Pak Army has, boldly, been responding to India’s unprovoked firing at the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. While, the fundamentalist party BJP led by the Indian Prime Minister Narend(ra Modi is implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda.
It is mentionable that Pakistani armed forces have been the redeeming saviors of nation under all circumstances and always reached out to all citizens of Pakistan during catastrophic periods—floods, natural calamities, earthquakes etc.
It is noteworthy that during the previous regime of the ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, WAPDA was going to be bankrupted, and he had invited the Army to manage its affairs. By collecting the electricity bills impartially, even from the influential persons, army’s personnel had saved WAPDA from bankruptcy.
But, it is regrettable that the disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and some leaders of the PML-N have started targeting the Supreme Court, Army and ISI, while forgetting apex court’s various decisions of the past, which went in their favour. Such a flawed policy will be manipulated by the foreign enemies of Pakistan, who are already determined to destabilize the country, as Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic Word.
Hence, the former Prime Minister Nawaz, and other members of the Sharif family, including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar must better face the cases legally, instead of targeting the key institutions in order to divert the attention of Supreme Court , high courts and NAB from ‘corruption’ which has affected every citizen of Pakistan.