As Nawaz Sharif takes on the mantle of leadership for the third time in Pakistan to become her most successful politician, he should not let this history making situation get into his head.
The conditions that thwarted his earlier attempts at seeing his premiership through remain strong, if not stronger than they were back in the day.
It will require more than just luck to pull Pakistan out of the doldrums. Things must now be done differently, and hopefully a Nawaz who has been fortunate to have opportunities twice in the past to effect change will be brave enough this time round to want to do things a tad differently than has always obtained in Pakistan.
Nawaz’ supporters’ll say he didn’t have the opportunity and time to bring his plans to fruition in his earlier stints as Prime Minister and may not be entirely to blame for what Pakistan has become, but I say he cannot be totally exonerated.
The only reason American democracy has stood the test of time over decades and centuries is the penchant of those at the helm of their affairs to strengthen their democratic institutions. It has been the opposite for Pakistan. Politicians here, burn the ladder that brought them to their lofty positions.
Sharif must change this.
Democratic institutions must be respected and bodies like the judiciary must be allowed to operate with undue pressure or interference from the executive which he now leads. He must ensure adherence to the Rule Of Law and wipe out the pervasive Culture of Impunity that currently corrupts the Pakistani air and space.
Pakistan has seen the assassination of key politicians, journalists and other innocent citizens over time without any serious attempt to prosecute the perpetrators of the heinous acts (just a few weeks back the prosecutor in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, was himself assassinated). The lack of justice and closures to these cases has continued to strengthen the hands of the killers, and until and unless perpetrators are brought to book, and made to face the full wrath of the law, then the killings will continue unabated.
Nawaz Sharif should also work to curb the rise in religious intolerance by working with parliament to proscribe Pakistan’s notorious ‘Blasphemy Laws’ which has become a tool of persecution in the hands of the majority Sunni muslims against the minority Shias, Christians and other religious groups.
It is a well known fact that a large swathe of Pakistan remain outside the control of the government. It will be recorded in posterity to the credit of Mr. Sharif if these areas are reconciled back to the fold of mainstream Pakistan.
Terrorism remains Pakistan’s greatest challenge. Pakistan cannot go this alone and must welcome foreign help. It is good that the newly sworn-in Prime Minister is seeking to end American ‘Drone’ attacks in the Pakistani border areas with Afghanistan but these attacks are not totally unjustified, except for the fact that it compromises a country’s sovereignty.
But Pakistan hasn’t acted in a way that shows that it’s a willing partner in the fight against terror. It’s almost impossible to accept the fact that Pakistani intelligence were unaware of the presence of Osama bin Laden within an imposing structure and walls just a stone throw from a military base.
As if that wasn’t indictment enough of their complicity, the persecution of Dr. Shakil Alfridi (the doctor that was involved in the phony immunization project that helped the CIA locate Osama, and is currently in jail) made all the more glaring their double speak on the war of terror, after collecting huge sums in aid from the Americans as allies in the fight against terror.
Pakistan must show beyond just mere words that it is willing to fight terror. It should employ all means at it’s disposal, including the re-education of the minds of the people from intolerance to an appreciation of other people’s ‘ways’ even when they don’t agree with it, not excluding bringing to bear the state’s coercive force in tackling hardliners where negotiations and softer approaches fail to achieve the much desired ‘Peace’.
The ‘informal’ state of war with India must end!
India has preoccupied herself with other things and climbed to be a nation to be reckoned with in many spheres of world politics and socio-economic life, while Pakistan has remained chained to the ground anticipating a (nuclear) war with India that may never be.
I was particularly gladdened by the kind words Manmoghan Singh expressed to Nawaz and also his kind responses so far. One would hope that they both will take it beyond this level to the point where talks could lead to the dousing of tensions on both sides.
I’m sure Mr. Nawaz Sharif knows more than I could ever know about the problems of Pakistan and how to go about solving them. That is why he sought power for a third time and got it. He must now prove to the world and his numerous supporters that he is up to the task.
He cannot do things the same old way and expect a different result!