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Post Panama
  • Nawaz Sharif
    Nawaz Sharif
Institutions must be stronger than individuals. PML-N was politically wise to accept the Supreme Court Judgment unanimously delivered by all five judges to disqualify the Prime Minister and send references against him and his children to NAB. Credit must be given where credit is due.
It is still PML-N‘s government in saddle. PML-N must focus on taking positive, democratic in-party decisions for its future course of action. This alone will stop the party from breaking at the base and frittering into pieces under different leaders. Lessons from history must be learnt.
The important thing is democracy has not been derailed. It is Nawaz Sharif’s prerogative to choose not only the party head but also the new Prime Minister. Though his influence and involvement till his government is in power will undoubtedly remain, he needs a clean name to go up on both boards and someone he can implicitly rely on.
Nawaz Sharif lost not only his premiership and also his national assembly seat but also his place in his own party in line with Political Parties Act and the Constitution of PML-N itself that reads: 9A. “No person will be appointed or serve as an office bearer of the party if he/she is not qualified to be or disqualified from being elected or chosen as member of Majlis Shoora (Parliament),” under article 62 & 63 of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan except for the condition of Graduation.
News on July 29, 2017 ran news stating, “Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will replace Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister of the country and Hamza Sharif will replace his father as Punjab Chief Minister.”
It was expected that in all probability there will be an immediate appointment of a Prime Minister to be followed by a permanent one, especially if choice in case of latter is Shahbaz Sharif. The announcement of the name of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim Prime Minister brought an immediate reaction from Sheikh Rasheed. He announced filing a petition for the LNG deal with Qatar.
Yes Shahbaz Sharif is an option, an option with high credentials, but will it remain a good option in case the Hudaibiya case is reopened in NAB? NAB is allowed six weeks to file reference and six months to wind up investigations under monitoring authority of a Supreme Court Judge. Will PML-N be again facing fall of the Premier close to elections 2018 if the decision is not in favour? PTI has already expressed their strong reservations on him being the Prime Minister owing to the kinship with the former Prime Minister.
Will it in any case, at this point in time, not be in PML-N’s favour to show a truly democratic spirit and bring forward someone else from outside the family?
Chaudhry Nisar was one choice. A face well known. Politically astute, experienced and someone other political parties will accept. He is a founding member of PML-N and a very close to Nawaz Sharif.
Ayaz Sadiq was the second choice. He is very close to Sharif family and known to be a docile man. Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament. A man who like Chaudhry Nisar will be acceptable politically across the board.
However, should not PML-N also look beyond obvious choices? How about picking up a smart, well spoken, articulate woman to be PML-N’s new face? Shaista Pervez sitting MNA, Women Parliamentary Caucus Secretary foots the bill beautifully. She came on Women Reserved Seats (from NA 278). A woman with class. She can help PML-N project a soft image of PML-N.
PML-N needs to think smart and out of box. It must not make any mistake in this crucial judgment that can make or break PML-N. ‘One must keep reverting back to history to correct future course, not to repeat past mistakes.’ (Wajid Shamsul Hasan, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and a veteran journalist)
PML-N has a huge challenge facing it- irrespective as to who comes as the next Prime Minister. PML-N has talked a lot about macroeconomic development. Nawaz Sharif coming in power coincided with attention to CPEC development and he was intelligent enough to grab it as the main wheel of his economic policy and springboard for foreign investment. Though, with his party still in power, the foremost task should be to consolidate economic gains made. The confidence in PML-N overall leadership not just one individual, or a few, need to be maintained. The top slots from Finance Minister to Khawaja Asif and others directly or indirectly tainted by Panama decision and JIT need change. These changes will reflect well upon a ‘new’ PML-N. Indeed it must come forth as one, bringing a changed panel of people to form a new personality of PML-N. A mix of technocrats and politicians. PML-N must have realised what’s coming; things are not going to be easy for them. It’s going to get rockier. Making the right choices will become crucial.
Above all, PML-N at all cost needs to ensure no outbreak of party in-fighting. It must go forward on a positive note to let democracy thrive and take steps to be seen to be correcting the wrongs committed. Confrontational and threatening posture can only damage the party.
Let the PML-N act in a way so history remembers this judgment as one that led to strengthening of institutions, not weakening them. Not only PML-N but also Pakistan will benefit from this positive approach.
“We’ll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create.” (Chuck Palahniuk:  Invisible Monsters)
Yasmeen Aftab Ali