Nawaz’ futile rhetoric against Pak Army

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Muhammad Hanif

ACCORDING to the Reuters dated 17 October 2020, the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 16 October 2020, accused the Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa of toppling his government, pressuring the judiciary, and installing the current government of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the 2018 election. Nawaz was speaking via video link from London to a gathering of tens of thousands of people organised by opposition parties to start a countrywide protest campaign in the city of Gujranwala aiming to oust Imran Khan’s government. As per the Reuter, while addressing the opposition parties gathering at Gujranwala from London, Nawaz stated, “Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, you packed up our government, which was working well, and put the nation and the country at the alter of your wishes”. The former Prime Minister also accused the chief of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of being involved in conspiring against his government.
The Reuter writes, “Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is the main opposition party, was sacked by the Supreme Court in 2017 on corruption charges and left for London in November 2019 on bail for medical treatment. He blames generals and judges for what he says were trumped up charges. Pakistan’s military denies meddling in politics”. As published by the Hindustan Times, of 17 October 2020, Nawaz Sharif attacked the Pakistan Army, saying it “broke the country into two”. Sharif directly accused Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and the ISI chief, Lt General Faiz Hameed of rigging the elections and making fabricated cases of corruption against opposition leaders. “They have to be held accountable for their crimes,” Nawaz said. He also accused the military and the intelligence agency of being behind his ouster as premier and installing their “puppet government. The above mentioned parts of Nawaz Sharif’s speech have been published in the Pakistani, Indian, and other foreign newspapers. The PM Imran Khan and his ministers have fiercely condemned Nawaz Sharif’s anti-army speech. It seems that Nawaz Sharif’s above mentioned vague speech and rhetoric against the Army Chief and the ISI Chief are mainly meant to vent out his frustration due to the corruption charges, which he is facing and for which he has been punished. In fact, there is no point in blaming the army. While the judiciary is an independent institution and nobody can dictate its decisions, the Election Commission is also independent, which is responsible to hold free and fair election and the army is only called in the security context. It also appears that being too power hungry, Nawaz seems to be struggling to make a political comeback by winning over support of people by misleading them by blaming army and the judiciary for his ills.
The historical evidence of various past events proves that Nawaz Sharif, in his capacity of being a three-time Prime Minister, or as a PML (N) head, while making speeches/statements on various occasions, had not followed the required protocol and any negative implications of making a speech. For instance, once he made a speech as a Prime Minister, in which he criticised the then President Ishaque Khan. Another time, he gave a leading statement about the Mumbai attacks. And, after his disqualification from contesting the future elections, he made anti-judiciary speeches/statements. Similarly, while addressing the gathering at Gujranwala on 16 October 2020, Nawaz Sharif said to the crowd, “do not hesitate to name those, who have installed Imran’s illegal government”. This means, he was trying to blame the army and develop a hatred among the masses against the defence forces to weaken them, which is an objective of Pakistan’s enemies, like India and others.
Also, it appears that during his tenures as a Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has not tried to comprehend how to work with various institutions of national importance, like the military, the judiciary, the Election Commission, the bureaucracy and the police force. In this context, it has to be understood that the institutions have their own integrity and they work according to their constitutional responsibilities and based on the rules and regulations issued/approved by the government. And, the institutions are only meant to work in the interest of the country and not to serve the interest of a political leader or a political party in the government. These are the reasons that Nawaz Sharif as a Prime Minister had not been able to build a good working relationship with almost all the aforesaid institutions, presidents and the army chiefs. That is why he was dismissed by the former President Ishaque Khan, and he had difficult relations with almost all the army chiefs, and even the judiciary. In view of the above discussion, the present Pakistani decision makers have to be careful that while Nawaz Sharif’s these political speeches may be aimed at venting out his frustration due to his being out of power, having been disqualified to contest future elections, and he being punished on corruption charges, these speeches are also harmful to the country’s interests, for which he should be held accountable. Also, he should not be allowed to make any such sentimental speeches in future, which are damaging to Pakistan’s interests.
—The writer is an ex-Army Colonel and Senior Research Fellow, Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad.

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