An open letter to Nawaz Sharif — by Gul Bukhari

Because you have firsthand experience of how democracy and the people’s will is thwarted and corroded, you must be cognizant of the role you must play at this crucial time, as you have done in the service of the country over the past three-and-a-half years

As leader of the second largest and main opposition party you must be aware of the heavy responsibility on your shoulders towards Pakistan. No doubt you are also conscious of the extremely sensitive nature of the onslaught the present government is faced with at the moment — and that the impact of the outcome of the allegations against it will not just affect the ruling party, but that implications exist for the direction of the country as a whole, and for the future and character of democracy in our country.

No doubt, you have justifiably expressed bitter disappointment and a sense of betrayal a number of times during the past three-and-a-half years, whenever the PML-N felt shortchanged at manifestations of the spirit of the Charter of Democracy (CoD) not being adhered to by the incumbent government. Yet, each time you emerged the statesman, refusing to support any unconstitutional devices, whilst at the same time continuing to duel with your opponents on matters of principle. Your refusal to dabble in opportunism, for the sake of democracy and national interest, has shown you to be head and shoulders above others in the political maturity you have acquired.

Because you have firsthand experience of how democracy and the people’s will is thwarted and corroded, you must be cognizant of the role you must play at this crucial time, as you have done in the service of the country over the past three-and-a-half years. It is time for you to lead your party towards providing strength to your political opponents at this time when they are besieged by undemocratic intrigues. One speaks of providing strength, not blindly or unjustifiably, but through pressing for the truth through transparent, independent and non-partisan inquiry into allegations of a very serious nature against your opponents. None other than you has better demonstrated an understanding of the difference between opponents and foes in the recent past. Indeed it is not just a matter of your own party, but your leadership can cut across political, provincial, economic, social and ethnic divides, as it did at the time of the restoration of the judiciary, to harness support for a higher cause.

Our country’s ambassador, representative not only of an elected federal government but representative of the country, is under charge based on allegations by an American citizen of dodgy repute, who professes no interest in, or love of, Pakistan. What is the credibility of a man who claims to have been so deeply trusted by our government to have been charged with a mission of a most sensitive nature, and who then ‘innocently’ writes an op-ed about the top secret mission purportedly without any inkling of the treasonous charges his op-ed insinuates against those alleged to have blind trust in him? His self-claimed motives for the op-ed are laughable if not half-witted: his desire to defend and protect Admiral Mike Mullen from vilification by the Pakistani media. Does defence of someone of the stature and power of Mullen by the likes of Mansoor Ijaz make for credible motive to any thinking mind? One might also ask him to delineate how exactly his piece in the Financial Times slandering the Pakistan government serves to defend the ‘honour’ of Mike Mullen.

The absurd excuse Ijaz attributes to the government for seeking American fists to rein in the Pakistani military was its alleged fear of a coup in the wake of the May 2nd Osama bin Laden raid. One would have to lose all faculties of reason to give any credence to such an attribution given the public’s dismay, anger and derision towards the military at the time. With even rickshaws sporting jokes like ‘horn na bajaayein, army so rahi hai’ (do not honk, the army is sleeping), the military was at its weakest, having been exposed as incompetent at best, and complicit at worst. The notion that the civilian government felt imminently threatened at such a time, and expected such fears to appear plausible, is ingenuous to say the least.

It is simply incredible that many of the so-called supporters of democracy in the Pakistani media have elected to focus on the allegations, and not on the patently obvious holes in the claims being made by Ijaz. This is a man who claims a ‘memo’ in black and white had to be written on demands from the American government due to its lack of trust, of ‘being burnt’ in the past by verbal assurances of the Pakistani government. Then how is an unsigned memo more credible or solid an assurance than verbal undertakings? The ‘memo’ does not contain any signature of any functionary of the government of Pakistan! How, then, does Ijaz justify the greater weight it purportedly carried with the Americans? How, then, has the Ambassador of Pakistan been humiliated and reduced to break down over unsubstantiated allegations on national television? Where is the honour in this extrajudicial trial — this spectacle being made of an elected political government in preparation to bring it down?

Mian sahib, there are many variants of extrajudicial trials, and judicial and extrajudicial miscarriages of justice, are there not? We need look no further than our own tragic history for that. Will we let our ignoble history repeat itself? Or will we stand united as ramparts against such a contrivance? Will you do all that is just and noble, all that is in your power to foil the 20,000 leagues under the sea?

Mian sahib, it was not so long ago that you undertook a long march to support a vital pillar of the state. At that time you were aligned with Pakistan, and against your opponents. You have left a deep mark of gratitude on the nation for what you did then. Your leadership and statesmanship is needed once again to weigh in with Pakistan, with democracy in Pakistan, and with the people of Pakistan. This time, as in the case of your support for the 18th Amendment, you may once again need to support your opponents in the fundamental interests of our country. Indeed, we have come to expect nothing less from you. Allegations must remain what they are: allegations, until proven transparently and incontrovertibly otherwise. Mere allegations must not be allowed to dethrone an elected government once again in this country. Your actions at this juncture could mean the difference between an obscurantist direction towards the past, or towards fortressing a democratic future for Pakistan.

Source: Daily Times



Latest Comments
  1. Naushad Shafkat
  2. Maulvi Imran Ahmed