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Nawaz Sharif

DEFINING MOMENT

Pakistan’s third-ever democratic elected process leading to the transition of power took place on 25 July 2018. More than 100 political parties contested the 272 seats in the National Assembly (NA), the balance reserved seats being allocated on a proportionate basis with an outright majority would need to have 172 seats. A quick look at the unofficial results show that with nearly 115 NA seats Imran Khan’s PTI is capable of making the Federal and KPK govts, but will be hard put to make the govt in the Punjab, even with independents. As things stand today PML (N) can make a weak coalition govt in the Punjab. Will PML (N) risk this?

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150 HRS TO A NEW DAWN?

Though the usual feudal modus operandi for obtaining votes, particularly in the rural areas, is through outright coercion and/or intimidation, it also depends upon who counts the vote, and even more importantly, who gets to collate it. With rigging/tampering with ballot and ballot boxes fairly widespread in 2008 and 2013, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must be given credit for taking effective steps for minimizing electoral fraud of various kinds.

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WRITING ON THE WALL

Even a cursory analysis of the three Nawaz Sharif sackings as PM reveals one constant sordid fact, his incurring penchant to listen to a bunch of “unelectable advisors” who constantly feed his already inflated ego about his supposed omni-potency. The 1993 sacking did him wonders, turning an Establishment “puppet on the throne” into a politician of some standing in his own right. In the second sacking in 1999 the Army swiftly countered Nawaz’s civilian coup, the Punjab CM brother Shahbaz Sharif was put into handcuffs lost out for no fault of his own. Shahbaz survived the last sacking in 2017 a year ago, giving the workaholic a unique opportunity to show off his development projects, mostly in Lahore, and shrug of Nawaz’s charismatic giant shadow to lead a political life of his own. Maryam had nothing to do with Nawaz’s second sacking, everything to do with his third.

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THE STREETS OF INTIMIDATION

Expecting a whitewash from the SC, former PM Nawaz Sharif literally went berserk on being “blackwashed” as untrustworthy and untruthful by the PanamaGate verdict. Furiously attacking the Supreme Court (SC) judges, he and his supporters claim that the SC verdict had reversed the vote of the Pakistani people. Involving the streets of Punjab besides the media in condemning the superior judiciary confirms no change in his mindset (or character) since the physical attack on the SC by his supporters doing “Bhangra” inside the SC, particularly Courtroom No. 1, in 1998 almost twenty years ago. The proposal to limit the effect of Articles 62 and 63 to five years or less is absurd.

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AM I THE STATE?

A month or so plus 40 years ago the democratically elected government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was toppled in a coup in 1977 by Gen Zia-ul-Haq. Initially Zia could have been sincere about holding “free and fair elections” within 90 days. The aura of wielding absolute power, extenuating political circumstances and apprehension of a vengeful Bhutto running rampant dissipated whatever sincerity, if any, he had to start with.

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180 Days in Economic History

Almost two decades ago, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) set in motion a chain of events leading to economic apocalypse. In defence of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto it must be said that while riding the crest of public opinion (which was aroused against free enterprise held captive of a handful of robber barons), he genuinely believed that a socialistic system would bring about amelioration in the miseries of the masses. In this he was not alone in the world, this was the fashion of the times in most Third World countries. Our tragedy was that in reacting against the greed of the few we ended up in the proliferation of corruption, at a particular economic crossroads we took the wrong turn. The collapse of the Socialist Empire has seen, a reaction against the system set in through the Third World, everybody is now abandoning Carl Marx for Adam Smith.

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