"A Genuine Leader is not a Searcher for Consensus but a molder of consensus". Mather Luther King Jr.
In May 2013 Pakistan National Assembly elections, Nawaz Sharif won with thumping majority making Imran Khan’s election hullabaloo meaningless. It is significant for two reasons; one that most of the voters participated in polling and second that this was the first election in Pakistan after the previously elected government completed its full term in office. Benazir was removed twice and her father Zulfiqar was removed as a result of army coup. On sordid democratic experience in Pakistan before the coup of General Ayub Khan had made Nehru remark that he had not changed as many pajamas as the regime sin Pakistan.
For next thirty-five years Pakistan languished under marshal law. The army and bureaucracy took her democracy a hostage. Nawaz Sharif was ousted twice and Pervez Musharraf humiliated him. However on the intervention of the US and Saudi Arabia he and his family were given shelter in Saudi Arabia. However, his industrial estate was ruined. Sharif brothers were not allowed to attend the funeral of their father. Muslim League (Q) was brought into power through the use of intimidation and force.
Nawaz returned in 2007 and the judiciary initiated action against Musharraf. After elections of 2009, ML (N) and PP formed coalition government but the former ended up in the opposition. There were occasions during PPP rule when agitation for ousting PPP government could have been launched but Nawaz Sharif asserted that democracy would not be toppled. That PPP could complete its normal term in office was just because Nawaz Sharif was very considerate showing his political sagacity. PPP edited only through democratic process. It was the victory of democracy in Pakistan. For the first time in her history, the people removed the incumbent government democratically.
Before forming the government at the federal level, Nawaz Sharif did not listen to non-democratic forces in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. He did not stop Tehreek-I-Insaaf from forming the government in that province. Nawaz Sharif refused to fall in the trap of Maulana Fazlur Rahman.
In earlier days the Baluchs were suppressed through force of arms. Former Governor and Chief Minster Akbar Bugti was assassinated in Musharraf’s time. US Congress even passed the resolution of right of self-determination for the Baluchs. But holding democratic norms high, Nawaz Sharif allowed the Baluchistan National Party to form government. The Baluch assembly elected a consensus candidate as the Chief Minster.
Pakistan’s bane is that her rulers exploited the sentimentality of her people and deprived them of their democratic, economic and even human rights. They instigated the unsuspecting people sometimes in the name of religion jihad and against Russia, sometimes on the plea of occupying Kashmir and sometimes in the name of suppressing the Bangladeshis. Pakistani autocrats played in the hands of foreign investors and thus prevented local industries from flowering and growing.
Today Pakistan is embroiled in numerous problems. She can’t repay foreign debts; terror monster has engulfed entire Pakistan, and load shedding has forced shut down of industrial units. Shut downs go on for 15 to 20 hours, price rise is touching the sky, exports have dwindled and foreign currency is almost next to nil. Currency rate is 100 rupees for a dollar and 130 rupees for a Euro. Once Indian 100 rupees fetched 70 Pakistani rupees but now it fetches 170 rupees.
Pakistanis are hard working people. They have borne many hardships with fortitude. But unfortunately Pakistan did not get sincere and hardworking leadership. Z.A Bhutto did pull the country out of 1971 crisis. When he tried to wriggle out of the US imperialism yoke, the US used the military coup and sent him to the gallows. The irony is that some of Pakistani leaders sit comfortably in the lap of the autocratic elements and have proved biggest enemies of Pakistan’s democracy.
Nawaz Sharif is a changed man. He did not open his mouth against the vitriolic of TI Party during election campaigns. Soon after elections, he called on ailing Imran Khan and sought his cooperation in solving the problems of Pakistan. He allowed democratic process in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan and is committed to seeking support of all political parties and organizations to help steer Pakistan from its continuing economic crisis. He made no ambitious promises to people after he was sworn in and expressed his desire of smoothening relations with the US, India and Afghanistan. He invited India to friendship and fraternal ties though unfortunately India has not responded to it. Nawaz Sharif is not linked to feudal class of Pakistan though he is among the capitalist group which is determined to reduce the influence of the feudal power. The issues of peace and tranquility, of development, of industry and of human rights etc. are all creation of her feudal social system. Capitalist system is eager for general peace and normalcy.
Nawaz Sharif has many serious issues at hand, the foremost being of energy and electricity.
1. To overcome energy problem, he should pay attention to installing atomic reactors, develop solar system, hydroelectric power generating system and thermal power projects. Short and long term projects are needed. Immediately solar power units and small scale hydroelectric power generating units should be explored.
2. Terrorism needs to be eradicated lock, stock and barrel. Dialogue with religious groups, Taliban and the army is necessary. If the issue is not resolved through dialogue then the army and the civil society have to be taken on board and State power used to suppress the terrorists.
The adventurist mindset in the army has to be reversed. A majority among the defence personnel think that recurring intervention by the army in the administration has endangered Pakistan’s security. By supporting and abetting terrorism and extremism Pakistan has become the biggest victim of terrorism. More army personnel have been killed by terrorists than what were its casualties in wars with India. Nawaz Sharif needs to convince all that in the 21st century issues cannot be solved through violence but only through talks. Give and take should be the principle of these talks.
3. The most important matter awaiting Nawaz Sharif’s attention is to dispel the thinking in world circles that Pakistan is the epicenter of international terror. He has to convince the world that Pakistan is a peace loving country. Whenever an act of terrorism is perpetrated, investigation leads the origin to the terrorists trained in Pakistan or in regions under Pakistan’s administration.
4. Not on the basis of emotions and sentiment but on the basis of the philosophy of live and let live all problems with the US and Europe should be discussed for a final solution. These countries have a crucial role in the governance of Pakistan. By resorting to sentimentalism and emotionalism, greater damage will be done to Pakistan itself rather than any other country.
5. Friendly relations can be created with the regional and neighboring states through mutual dialoge. We should not work against the interests of one another when we are dealing with China, Afghanistan, India and Iran. On the other hand, we should straighten relations with them if we want to serve the interests of Pakistan.
6. Pakistan’s relations with India have not been cordial last sixty-five years. Governments of both countries have been thrusting their people into difficulties and problems owing to their mutual animosity. Kashmir may be a crucial matter for Pakistan, but Pakistan cannot afford to put her economy, state philosophy and development at stake for Kashmir. When on the count of economy and democracy Pakistan is enabled to revive her international profile and status and when Pakistan is economically strong then alone can she play a meaningful role about Kashmir on international level.
7. Pakistan needs to change Kashmir policy. The 65-year old slogan of accession to Pakistan and Kashmir as the life line of Pakistan did not get her Kashmir nor did it help her garner international help for her Kashmir obsession. It did not spare Kashmiris the oppression and tyranny which they are undergoing. Therefore Pakistan will have to change its traditional Kashmir policy and the mindset of the people, army and the government. She will have to reconcile to the demand of Kashmiris for unlimited right of self-determination. Pakistan has to come out of the stranglehold of accession of Kashmir to Pakistan and Kashmir as the life line of Pakistan.
8. Economic experts of the world as well as of Pakistan have come to the conclusion that Pakistan will have to straighten her economic and social relations with India, her neighboring country. Apart from Kashmir, there are other bilateral issues between Pakistan and India. These, for instance, are of Siachin, Sir Creek etc. Most important of all is the issue of water distribution which must be resolved on high priority basis.
9. If Nawaz Sharif wants to write a new page of the history of South Asia and thereby attain immortality then he must try for forging United South Asian Union comprising Afghanistan, Hindustan, Iran, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as free trade zone. Visa for the citizens of these countries for visits should be discarded. Pakistanis are hardworking as well as smart. If they are allowed the opportunity of running free trade in neighboring countries, then the Pakistanis will be the maximum beneficiaries of this facility. This would wriggle her out of many problems.
We are aware that Nawaz Sharif has a number of serious challenges before him. But we also know that not only Pakistan but the entire South Asia has great expectations from him. He is a ray of hope amidst surrounding darkness. His experience, wisdom, patience and statesmanship, his love for his country and his deep desire to bring his people out of distress are strong positives to bring success to his efforts. Let people attribute the following verses of Habib Jalib to Nawaz Sharif:
"Yeh nafratun ki fasilen yeh jahalatun ke hisar
Na rah sakenge hamari sada ke raste main
Mita sake na koi sail-e inqilab jinhen
Wuh naqsh chhorhe hain h am ne wofa ke raste main".
This article was published in various Pakistani and Kashmiri newspapers.