STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
Gujranwala was an interesting show. PML(N) has deep roots there since Zia Ul Haq coupled with “Butt Baradari”. It suited them well. It exploded the myth of PDM as the event unfolded. After Maryam’s speech, the stadium started to empty while Bilawal spoke. Maulana (slot machine) Fazal spoke to empty chairs. In reality PDM is just a façade, it was PML(N)’s show with the rest tagging along to stay relevant.
What is PML(N)’s agenda? It is Nawaz Sharif centric. His wish is their command. Nawaz Sharif hates jail, he will not go back there whatever it takes. His billions are already overseas and he will do anything to protect them. He has absolutely no intentions to ever return to Pakistan. His loyalty is to himself, the country is just a convenient milking machine. So how can he counter the recent moves to extradite him? He needs to build a case for asylum. What is quickest way? Get nasty with the Army Chief.
A mean strategy, but “Baoo” has another facet based on his Gowalmandi roots. It is locally known as a “Rang Baaz”. It translates as a showoff that goes around bullying and threatening folks portraying strength he does not possess. Once the bluff is called, he fizzles out. Punjabi is a very expressive language. This scenario brings to mind another expression “ke pidi ke pidi da shorba”. Translates as “What is a tiny bird and how much soup can it yield”.
Nawaz Sharif is boxing way beyond his weight. He is following the footsteps of MQM leader Altaf Hussain. Does he not realize how poorly it ended for him? But this time around he is being egged on by his friend PM Modi who has openly expressed his preference for Sharifs. It is not without a reason. In his speech Nawaz Sharif listed PM Modi’s visit to Jati Umra as an achievement.
In fact it was a business meeting organized by Sharif’s business partner in India, Mr. Jandal, away from prying eyes and listening devices. It revolved around a business deal in which Jandal had purchased US surplus military equipment from Afghanistan. The Sharifs were partners. Their contribution was permitting the trucking of these materials through Pakistan. Jandal had set up a special steel mill for this purpose.
Military hardware is high quality steel, thick gauge that is rarely available at such throw away prices. A high-stake poker game. However, Pakistan Army disallowed this movement under General Kiyani despite a clear directive from the then Prime Minister Sharif. The incoming General Raheel Sharif concurred with the decision of his predecessor. The deal of the century was busted. It angered the Sharifs in a mighty way and fueled their pushback in the form of “Dawn leaks”.
The relations worsened with Panama Leaks leading to Nawaz’s exit from office. After conviction he was able to slither away to London, using crocodile tears and manipulation. Once a free bird he found immediate confluence with PM Modi who hates Pak Army and PM IK. The facilitators provided the funding. The opening act was performed by Nawaz Sharif with a flair he never achieved as an aspiring actor. It was a dream come true for Modi to have the leader of 2nd biggest political party in Pakistan singing to his tunes.
The team of eleven parties are conducted by the Maestro twelfth man sitting in London. They have serious ambitions. They intend to drive out the PTI Government before the end of the year. The “Tonga” parties are guns for hire with their own beefs. Maulana Fazal wants to stay relevant. What drives PPP? They want to stake out territory to be in the catchment area when PML(N) implodes.
Implode it will if they continue to follow Nawaz Sharif blindly. The way he spoke about the Army Chief has sealed his fate. Pak Army is the only institution in Pakistan that has weathered multiple storms to manipulate its chain of command. It not only safeguards our borders, it is also the first responder for any calamity within the country. Referring to 1971 is the ultimate insult for our defense institutions, especially coming from someone who rose from their nursery.
Nawaz Sharif has entered a one-way street. He doesn’t care, but his parliamentarians do. Belonging to political families, they realize the consequences of this reckless path. PM IK mounted a spirited defense against this onslaught.
Food inflation is becoming PTI’s Achilles Heal. He gave perfectly logical reasons what is causing the present spiral. But here is the catch. When someone has a strong fever he doesn’t want the doctor to explain the causes, he wants to be rid of the fever. That is what PM IK needs to get a hold of. As a successful Captain I am sure he understands the importance of field placement. He needs to draw on the strengths of his team or reshuffle it. Time is running out.
Another area requiring focus is cleanup of the bureaucracy. The remnants of Sharifs and disciples of Fawad Hassan Fawad are clinging onto key positions. They are defeating all the positive moves of PTI and fueling inflation. If Yahya Khan and Bhutto could clean up the decks, why not PM IK?
Nawaz and Maryam’s combination is trying link their survival struggle with the plight of the common man battling inflation. An explosive premise. As the events unfold PM IK has to be in front and centre to eliminate profiteering and cut the stranglehold of hoarders sucking blood of the common man.