STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Lahore has a unique culture amongst its traditional families in and around the walled city. Blunt and down to earth they enjoy the coziness of shared common walls. Since moving to Lahore I had many friends from this area. In this joint family system sometimes a member would adopt a different lifestyle. It would be expressed by the way they dressed, spoke or carried themselves. Their families would accept it but would refer to that person as “Baoo”.

“Baoo’s” roots are from Urdu word “Baboo”. During British Raj when an educated person achieved employment as a Clerk, he was a “Baboo”. The term continued after Independence, used in Punjabi as “Baoo”. Nawaz Sharif was the “Baoo” of Sharif family. I met him as a shy Government College student who would blush very easily. With family backing and tremendous luck he rose to fame without putting in a day’s hard work.

After trying his hand at cricket and acting he ended up becoming the PR guy of Sharif family serving the bureaucrats. Mian Sharif of “Ittefaq Group” nurtured these connections. It was the launching pad for “Baoo’s” political career, catapulted to power by a military dictator.

There was no looking back. Nawaz Sharif became a Prime Minister three times. Each time he was booted out before he completed his tenure. Hence you can understand his ire against the armed forces. It was always for the same reason: corruption. Such consistency! Every time he had a one point agenda; self enrichment at the cost of our impoverished nation!

This last time he couldn’t weasel his way out using connections or bribes. An independent judiciary, upright Army leadership and his inescapable nemesis Imran Khan blocked him. “Baoo” was convicted. Still he found a way out of jail using lies, manipulation with unmatched skills of greasing palms. As a free bird in London he wants to conserve his billions and that is not letting him rest.

PM IK refused an NRO. His lackeys failed to block legislation required by FATF, his last hope. Plans for Maryam Nawaz groomed as the Princess Royale to be his successor are evaporating. Khan refuses to play ball.

Nawaz changed his tactic and embarked onto some serious rough seas. He has taken on the Army. All his political life, “Baoo” has operated through sponsors. Changing them as needed. This time he is relying on his longtime friend, Prime Minister Modi. The global scene has changed. It is USA vs China. Pak-China relationship is blossoming through CPEC, a key component of Belt and Road Initiative.

This does not sit well with India, USA and their allies. Who is the custodian of this project? Pak Army. So why not go for the jugular? Meetings in London were held amongst the opponents of Pakistan. Within the last thirty days the divergent opposition has morphed into PDM. It is planning to turn the country upside down.

The Sharif family, despite their stolen billions, have never done politics on their own dime. Former colleagues will vouch for that. Tons of tainted money from RAW and other dubious sources have started to pour into Pakistan. The weather cock of foreign funding Maulana “slot machine” Fazal has started his barking chimes.

PDM is really a front for PML(N). PPP is reluctant to be used again. Their Punjab leadership is pushing it into the fray. Corrupt elements in media are creating a loud din. The opening act was Nawaz’s fiery speech that threw the gauntlet at the power base. A grand entrance but is it sustainable? Maryam Nawaz is beaming prematurely.

Can PTI take them on? They have a huge hole in their armor. Food inflation. The prices of daily food items are rising at alarming levels. This can make the public explode. The opposition vultures are hovering to cash it.

With a background in Agriculture and Economy and talking to friends in Pakistan I believe it is a huge disaster. Most of the produce is locally grown. Their production can be scaled up in a short time. We have the experts like Dr. Fayyaz and Asif Sharif within the country. Agricultural sector seems to have fallen off the PTI watch list.

The way the market is behaving is a total collapse of administrative control of extortionist profiteers. The unscrupulous traders and hoarders are raking in unimaginable profits. They have formed a nexus, lethal for PTI’s survival.

I will go a step further. These traders are the same people who profited in PML(N) times when vegetables were imported from India. They have joined hands with remnants of Nawaz in the Bureacracy. Is this the latest ploy to bring PTI Government down?

The common man does not care what changes are happening at the national level. They feel the heat when they buy grocery. It is a provincial matter but we have an imbecile as CM Punjab.

It is time for PM IK to step up and come out. He did it 3 decades ago when fundraising for Shaukat Khanum was faltering. He reached out to the general public who responded unbelievably. He needs to find out who is driving the knife in PTI’s back and how to break this criminal enterprise. He must encourage a public-private partnership to grow vegetables of daily use through modern technology to quadruple production and bring down the prices.

PM IK, the solutions are there for you. You have to remove the shackles of your exalted office to lead the charge. You have to win back the hearts and minds of the people and blunt this damaging onslaught eating away PTI’s roots.

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