Not so Sharif: Pakistan SC’s decision on Nawaz Sharif will make little difference to India

Jul 19, 2017
Pakistan’s unhappy tryst with democracy hit another speed breaker when a joint investigation team (JIT) appointed by its Supreme Court to probe the “Panama Papers” indicted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children for financial irregularities and tax evasion. Elected governments in Pakistan serve at the army’s pleasure and a weakened Sharif will suit its interests. Pakistan’s judiciary takes its cue from the army and enthusiastically cracks down on political corruption while leaving other sectors of society untouched. Recall that former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani lost his job in 2012 after a court judgment against him.
But Pak politicians have only themselves to blame for not uniting against military and judicial overreach. Politicians like former cricketer Imran Khan have cosied up to the army to breach Pakistan’s bipolar politics that revolved around PML(N) and PPP. Two army officers affiliated with ISI and Military Intelligence served on the six-member JIT, giving enough reason for Sharif supporters to question the probe’s credibility. Even after democracy was restored and Pervez Musharraf stepped down in 2008, the army has continued to dictate foreign policy. But Pakistan’s political class, including Sharif, accepts this humiliating arrangement.
Even when Sharif used his prerogative to appoint Qamar Javed Bajwa as army chief, the ‘Dawn Leaks’ episode revealed his weak hand in dictating policy on India and terror. Not surprisingly, the army thwarted Sharif’s attempts to build bridges with counterpart Narendra Modi, evident in the string of terror attacks on Indian military bases. Elections are due in 2018 and Sharif seemed poised to benefit from a weak opposition and positive economic outlook. Democracy teeters along in Pakistan but offers little comfort to India. Engaging the army, with its influence on foreign policy and terror groups, may yield what toothless governments can’t.
Times of India, July 19, 2017

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