Pitfalls for Nawaz’s successor


WITH the exit of Mian Nawaz Sharif,  Pakistan now has a new Prime Minister. A new  cabinet and with ten months to go for the next general elections, the successor of Mian Nawaz Sharif will face numerous pitfalls. For starters, it is still not clear whether Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is the interim Prime Minister for forty five days, keeping the seat warm for Mian Shahbaz Sharif or he will continue the whole remaining ten months. This uncertainty will certainly fetter him to a state of indecisiveness. During his three years plus stint as Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif never appointed a Foreign Minister. The country paid dearly for this lapse because in the dynamic world of today, where foreign policy constraints are very demanding, in the absence of a full time foreign Minister, Pakistan was grappling in the dark. Arch rival India took full advantage of the weakness in Pakistan’s system. Khaqan Abbasi must correct for this void and fill it with a competent person at the earliest. Those analysts and observers who had predicted that after the fall of Nawaz Sharif, party members will abandon PML (N) have been proved wrong. For now PML (N) has managed to hold on to its members in Parliament. The challenges for PML (N) after this great debacle are numerous and the party has to take concrete steps to redeem itself. The reliance of Nawaz Sharif on dynastic politics must be shed. It is time to groom other competent members to take the mantle of leadership, which is the true demand for democratic principles. The second challenge is the Sword of Damocles of various corruption charges which PML (N) leaders including the new incumbent in the seat of PM and Mian Shahbaz Sharif are likely to face, which if proved, may unseat them from Parliament and result in their incarceration. Mian Nawaz Sharif has announced that his party, PML-N would challenge Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgment by filing a review petition. That is his right since he is the aggrieved party, But Mr. Sharif also told a meeting of party legislators that his disqualification by the court was not due to corruption. He may not be able to hold the moral high ground if the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) brings the cases of corruption filed against him to their logical conclusion. The next pitfall which must be considered is placing a competent and mature information minister, who should not be reactive to Imran Khan’s utterances. Imran Khan-centric policies are a waste of good time and resources. The information minister should be engaged in planning and executing sound strategies for leading the PML (N) through the challenges of the modern era, which is also the age of information. PML (N) has to gear itself for the general elections likely to be held in 2018. We have to wait for the NAB investigations to reach a final conclusion, which may leave the party tainted and besmirched in charges of corruption, sleaze and money laundering. The party can no longer hide behind the cloak of political martyrdom. It will have to deliver in the remaining ten months till the next polls and prove to voters that they deserve a second chance. The interim Prime Minister has to exude confidence in the masses that he is worthy of their trust. His first address to Parliament after his election was rather mundane and frivolous. He did not emanate statesmanship or the qualities expected from a national leader to steer the ship of governance through the choppy waters ahead. PML (N) should not be vindictive of the judiciary or members of the Joint Investigation Team which brought out the plethora of evidence against their fallen leader and his progeny.  Social media is being used to slander Pakistan Army and demand vengeance for the fallen leader of PML (N). Nothing could be further from the truth. General Qamar Javed Bajwa was handpicked by Mian Nawaz Sharif to lead the army. He has sworn allegiance to uphold the constitution of Pakistan defend the territorial frontiers from external and internal threats and not blindly support Mian Nawaz Sharif. Sullying the good name of the army will only confuse the nation and erode the trust in the khakis, who are sacrificing their lives to keep Pakistan safe. PML (N) must learn to respect the Army and not try to treat it as an opponent or detractor. The war on terror has taken a huge toll of lives of both the army and civilians. Guide the army, do not denigrate it and let it continue to combat terrorism with full concentration. CPEC holds great promise for Pakistan. Our Chinese benefactors have deemed the ouster of Nawaz Sharif as an internal matter. However, to bring confidence of the Chinese leadership that the new PM will continue providing due attention to CPEC, Khaqan Abbasi must lead a delegation to China at his earliest opportunity to add to the trust which China has reposed in Pakistan. The investment of funds and resources above sixty billion dollars is unprecedented and the Chinese must be reassured that they have bet on the right horse.—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host. Email: [email protected]

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