Decisive two months… Sharif vs Imran

By Kiran Bokhari

          (Pakdestiny.com) A lot more is stored for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the month of September with regard to Panama scandal and something related to it.

          Reports coming that the premier has planned another London trip next month to avert yet another crisis back home in the face of the protests of Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri.

          It is said either the month of September or October will be eventful having a lot of surprises for the PML-N government. Political pundits say if the government survived in these two months then it will complete its tenure. This seems to be a last chance for Imran Khan to knock off the Sharif government in case of failure he will have no political future.

        Dawn also says… BAFFLING as the strategy on the Panama Papers adopted by the PTI and PPP may be, there does appear to be a method to the madness. Both parties have tried to engage the PML-N on negotiations over the terms of reference for a judicial commission while simultaneously attempting to put pressure on the government for decisively resolving the simmering crisis over the finances of the first family. To be sure, the PTI and the PPP both appear to have separate motives in keeping the Panama Papers issue alive. For the PPP, the central issue appears to be national relevance: a continuing slide towards electoral oblivion in Punjab means the party will be reduced to a Sindh rump if it does not find a way to counter and erode the PML-N’s dominance in Punjab. For the PTI, the only issue that appears to agitate the party is the ouster of the PML-N in any possible way in order for PTI supremo Imran Khan to become a prime ministerial candidate.

Despite the political motives of the opposition, there remains a basic contradiction that the PML-N government has not addressed: the Panama Papers raised genuine questions about the financial affairs of the first family that no amount of obfuscation thus far has been able to hide. The questions do not simply pertain to apartments in London or the accumulation of tens of millions of British pounds, but are about the very nexus between politics and big business in Pakistan. How, truly, has the prime minister of Pakistan, coming from a reasonably wealthy family, turned into the patriarch of one of the wealthiest political dynasties in this country’s history? Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may be able to explain his personal history, but the legal, financial and electoral questions remain unanswered.

Ultimately, the democratic project demands a progressive improvement in the capacity of the elected representatives of this country. Imran Khan and his PTI may appear to be disruptive influences, ready to undermine whatever democratic stability this country has managed to achieve in the past eight years, but why can this country’s elected representatives not submit themselves to reasonable standards of accountability?

Imran Khan may be wrong in his anti-democratic agitation, but is the PML-N right in its defiance against democratic norms? Nothing the PTI, PPP or any political opposition party in parliament has done since the Panama Papers revelations has undermined the democratic project in the country. But have the democratically elected parties in the country really made any attempt to resolve the crisis? Or, with elections on the horizon, have they just been indulging in a game of political one-upmanship? A genuine attempt at introducing transparency and financial probity would go a long way in demonstrating that politics goes beyond the electoral race and is aimed at democratic reform of the system. Pak Destiny


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