May 13, 2018

In defense of Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif
And once again I must brace myself, for the torrent of “you love Nawaz Sharif” trolls is forthcoming. But that’s OK, because sometimes objectivity and truth is more important than reality denying denizens attacking your integrity. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let us talk about Nawaz Sharif.

Two days ago, an interview which Nawaz Sharif gave to Cyril Almeida of Dawn was published in which Sharif claimed:

“…we have isolated ourselves. Despite giving sacrifices, our narrative is not being accepted. Afghanistan’s narrative is being accepted, but ours is not. We must look into it. Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”

This statement of his, particularly his allusion to the fact that non-state militant organizations active on Pakistani soil were used to kill people in the Mumbai attack has caused the military establishment and its social media mongering masses’ libido to go into overdrive. Some choice comments from social media following the publishing of Nawaz Sharif’s interview present the following narrative: Nawaz Sharif is a traitor! Look how he defames Pakistan! He is an Indian agent! He has been placed in Pakistan for Indian interests!

The outlandishness of these claims is only exceeded by the outlandishness of the well read, well connected, well educated masses, who have ample access to fact checking resources, yet still choose to not only believe in such nonsense, but revel in spouting it off. When it is the educated people who hawk such nonsense, it is an indicator that any debate on merit and value is effectively dead in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is a traitor because he is a traitor, ergo anything he will say and do is because he is a traitor.

Just the other day I was having a discussion with a friend and I told him the genius of the military establishment is not that they can meddle and muck with the civilian government; it is that they have made the general public believe that it is not only acceptable, but it is actually for the greater good. Spoiler alert: we’ve seen this film before, and the greater good is a pound of horseshit that never hits home. Nawaz Sharif being removed from the post of the premiership on the flimsiest of excuses, the censorship imposed on him, the humiliation he is being subjected to (re: not being given an extension to visit his cancer-stricken wife), is not only acceptable, it is actually preferable because it is “for the greater good.”

Tomorrow (May 14, 2018), the military has called for a meeting of the National Security Council “…to discuss recent misleading media statement regarding the Bombay [sic] incident.” No doubt, the Supreme Ruler of Pakistan, General Qamar Javed Bajwa will tell his puppet Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to put the out of control madman Nawaz Sharif on a leash. In what universe does any of this make sense, or sound appropriate?

But let’s back up for a moment. In 2009 Rehman Malik held a national presser in which he proclaimed:

“Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan. We have lodged an FIR into the case.”

He then went on to say that the “attackers left from Karachi on a boat hired from Balochistan” and that, “an e-mail claiming responsibility for the attack was sent by Zarrar Shah of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.” All this was admitted by the Interior Minister of Pakistan … in 2009.

In 2016 Rehman Malik further said (in response to David Headley’s testimony):

“We have the details about who paid tickets, who funded him and how he recruited non-state actors from Pakistan [for the attacks].”

But that’s Rehman Malik. He too is a traitor in the mould of Nawaz Sharif. Why should we listen to him?

OK then. Here’s General (R) Mahmud Durrani, the National Security Advisor describing the 26/11 Mumbai attack in his own words:

“I hate to admit that the 26/11 Mumbai attack carried out by a terror group based in Pakistan on November 26, 2008 is a classic trans-border terrorist event.”

Mahmud Durrani further went on to explain that he has —

“… very good information that the government of Pakistan or the ISI was not involved in 26/11. I am 110% sure.”

Then there is Bob Woodward, Michael Hayden and Hussain Haqqani who all said the same thing — that General Pasha (ISI chief at the time) admitted that the Mumbai attack was planned and executed from Pakistan by non-state actors. His exact words are said to have been “the people were ours, the operation was not.”

Now that you have all this information, scroll up and look at the statement Nawaz Sharif made. Does it sound traitorous and treasonous anymore? Does asking a legitimate question — can we allow non-state actors to operate from our soil? — really make one a traitor to Pakistan? Because if this is the definition we’re using now, it’s only a matter of time before each and everyone, including those who think they’re above board, are accused of treason.

This is not to say that Nawaz Sharif is without fault and we need to defend his integrity. Not at all. What this is about is the fact that a de facto shadow government is in place, with unwilling puppets dancing in front taking the abuse. Nawaz Sharif’s self-indulgence is revolting, his satiation repulsive, but in the same vain ask yourself why him only? Why do we think it is OK to break every single norm that we bandy about as being essential to a democratic, prosperous Pakistan when it comes to Nawaz Sharif and single him out? If there is accountability, it should be across the board. But does it look that way to you?

If your answer is “for the greater good,” and that it needs to start from somewhere, I have nothing but despair and hopelessness for you. The greater good is nothing, if it is not for everyone including those you hate, loathe and detest.