WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN PAKISTAN

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As you know, there have been significant developments in the politics of Pakistan in the past few days. As well as the Prime Minister’s disqualification from office and a lifetime ban on his political career, Minister of Finance Muhammed Ishaq Dar was also dismissed or removed. The Panama documents which were made public last year, named Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif for an alleged corruption. According to the result of the investigation, though Nawaz Sharif did not prove to be guilty but disqualified from the post. The judgment also bars Sharif from holding the leadership of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N).

I was in Pakistan when these developments took place, so I had a better opportunity to follow the developments. Meanwhile l also had the opportunity to interview an academician I met in Pakistan.
Note: As per the request of the academician I interviewed to keep the anonymity, I am not sharing the details about academician.

In the light of this information, what are your views about the disqualification and dismissal of Nawaz Sharif?

The disqualification of the Prime minister was based on Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution that penalized him on being dishonest about the iqama he holds in the UAE. This article has been very controversial for a long time now and debates have taken place about its removal from the constitution. Nawaz Sharif was ironically also one to oppose its removal in the past but now has become a target of it. Some people who oppose Nawaz Sharif based on his alleged involvement in corruption are happy about the decision. However, if one considers how no parliamentarian would be found righteous based on the criteria that Articles 62 and 63 have, this decision would make little sense.

Is it a judicial coup against Nawaz Sharif?

Is it a judicial coup against Nawaz Sharif? If yes, what is the probability that this coup is a Western-backed coup? What do you think about it?

Calling it a judicial coup would be undermining the rule of law in the country. The judiciary has come a long way and while some decisions can be contested and the discrepancy in judgements can be analyzed, the power that the judiciary has commanded in ousting a sitting prime minister can still be appreciated.

Is it proved that Nawaz Sharif did corruption? What are your views about this corruption? What according to you is the reason behind the constitutional court’s decision to disqualify Nawaz? Corruption or not to be honest with the court? 

I have explained already that Nawaz Sharif was disqualified based on Articles 62 and 63 that are not about monetary corruption. The court has referred the corruption case against Nawaz Sharif to NAB (National Accountability Bureau) and we can only know whether or not he is found guilty of it once this investigation is complete. The court has not given a final verdict on it yet except for stating that it needs to be investigated further.

So, it appears that the decision is not directly related to panama files. You are saying that the decision was made upon the results submiited by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and on the basis of the article 62 and 63 of the Constitution than the panama files. If we look at the articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, this decision came on the ‘d’ part of the article 62 which is:(d) he is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions

62. Qualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament):

  1. A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless-
    1. he is a citizen of Pakistan;
    2. he is, in the case of the National Assembly, not less than twenty -five years of age and is enroled as a voter in any electoral roll in-
      1. any part of Pakistan, for election to a general seat or a seat reserved for non-Muslims; and
      2. any area in a Province from which she seeks membership for election to a seat reserved for women.
    3. he is, in the case of Senate, not less than thirty years of age and is enrolled as a voter in any area in a Province or, as the case may be, the Federal Capital or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, from where he seeks membership;
    4. he is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions;
    5. he has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practises obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sins ;
    6. he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law;
    7. he has not, after the establishment of Pakistan, worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the ideology of Pakistan.
  2. The disqualifications specified in paragraphs (d) and (e) shall not apply to a person who is a non-Muslim, but such a person shall have good moral reputation.
  1. Disqualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament):
    1. A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if:-
      1. he is of unsound mind and has been so declared by a competent court; or
      2. he is an undischarged insolvent; or
      3. he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State; or
      4. he holds an office of profit in the service of Pakistan other than an office declared by law not to disqualify its holder; or
      5. he is in the service of any statutory body or any body which is owned or controlled by the Government or in which the Government has a controlling share or interest; or
      6. being a citizen of Pakistan by virtue of section 14B of the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951 (II of 1951), he is for the time being disqualified under any law in force in Azad Jammu and Kashmir from being elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir; or
      7. he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release; or
      8. he has been, on conviction for any offence involving moral turpitude, senteced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release; or
      9. he has been dismissed from the service of Pakistan or service of a corporation or office set up or, controlled, by the Federal Government, Provincial Government or a Local Government on the grounds of misconduct, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his dismissal; or
      10. he has been removed or compulsorily retired from the service of Pakistan or service of a corporation or office set up or controlled by the Federal Government, Provincial Government or a Local Government on the ground of misconduct, unless a period of three years has elapsed since his removal or compulsory retirement; or
      11. he has been in the service of Pakistan or of any statutory body or any body which is owned or controlled by the Government or in which the Government has a controlling share or interest, unless a period of two years has elapsed since he ceased to be in such service; or
      12. he, whether by himself or by any person or body of persons in trust for him or for his benefit or on his account or as a member of a Hindu undivided family, has any share or interest in a contract, not being a contract between a cooperative society and Government, for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any contract or for the performance of any service undertaken by, Government…)

 

As you know, Tahir ul Kadri is a popular figure in the public and do not have good relations with Nawaz Sharif also, it is said that he has a role in all of these developments. In fact, it is considered to be the same FETO coup attempt in Turkey. It is said that there is a parallel deep state in various levels of the state. According to the survey, since 2011 all members of the constitutional court are said to have been the followers of Tahir ul Qadri. What are your views about this?

 Tahir ul Qadri has quite a following in Pakistan, though limited to his religious followers who are primarily part of his many seminaries throughout the country. However, he has a record of coming to Pakistan like people visit other countries for vacations, and going back without making a substantial difference to the political situation. So it needs to be seen if, as a Canadian national, Qadri can this time around take his political involvement in Pakistan to another level.

Tahir ul Qadri reached Pakistan on 8th August 2017, and organized a rally in Lahore. He congratulated the members of the constitutional courts in his speech and sent greetings to Opposition Party leader Imran Khan. By observing all this, what are your views about the arrival of Tahir ul Qadri?

Tahir ul Qadri means to the political situation in Pakistan

I have explained what Tahir ul Qadri means to the political situation in Pakistan. Historically, he has not proven to be so invested in Pakistan so as to stay in the country for a duration long enough to influence real change. It could be different this time but that needs to be seen.

As you know, there is a direct influence of the army in Pakistan politics. So, is there any direct or indirect role of the army to get the Nawaz disqualified? 

Analysts have been pointing to the military establishment’s role in influencing Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification. Considering the establishment’s involvement in the political arena in the past and the power that it holds over other institutions, this analysis cannot be dismissed easily.

Who will undertake the post of prime minister until the general elections in 2018? Is the Shahbaz Sharif have chances to be the party leader and prime minister in this case?

It might be a little too early to conjecture who will be nominated for the position of Prime minister by PML N in the next elections. Shahbaz Sharif is a name that has been floating but Nawaz Sharif is also said to be considering his wife Kulsoom Nawaz’ name and even his daughter Maryam Nawaz’.

As it is known that Mr. Shahid Khakan Abbasi, Minister of Oil and Natural resources, was brought in the cabinet to replace Nawaz Sharif and to serve as a prime minister. But there are rumors that Mr. Abbasi will act as a prime minister for the remaining term till the next general elections of 2018. So it would not be wrong to say that the Shahbaz Sharif is the most popular candidate as a party leader for now.

It is thought that these events will affect the PML (N) party in a negative way. What do you think about this? Also, if Shahbaz Sharif will be the candidate for prime minister next term, what are the chances of victory?

PML N has a strong voter base in Punjab; it is considered their stronghold and it is expected that it will still win from here, even if Shahbaz Sharif is the candidate for the seat of Prime minister. However, it can go in any direction considering the involvement of the military establishment.

As you know, the opposition reacted with great joy on this decision especially Imran Khan regarded this as a victory. Therefore, it is thought that this situation will affect the opposition party in the positive direction. What are your opinions about this situation and which party will be beneficial from all this?

It was definitely a major victory for the opposition as they had been asking Nawaz Sharif to step down since he had taken charge. The whole situation has been positive for the opposition as it created some chaos in the ranks of the ruling party.

In other words, it is highly likely that other parties will benefit from this development to increase their vote bank especially Imran Khan. Because the whole country started to move in opposition of the corrupt government. In particular, Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri celebrated this decision by organizing various rallies.

To you which party has more chances to win the next elections? Imran Khan’s PTI or Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N? 

Considering the current situation, it could go either way. PML N is going through a crises right now and there are even talks about rifts within the party. If the party does not stabilize and mobilize the way it needs to mobilize for a victory, the ground is open for other parties too.

 So, according to you, the Nawaz Sharif’s PML (N) party is in a phase of crisis but if the Shahbaz Sharif or any other good alternative takes over the party in the next elections, the crisis can be minimized. As you mentioned before, the PML (N) party has a strong voter base, and if it uses it wisely, there are higher chances of success again in the next general elections. Imran Khan will also try his best to get the maximum benefit out of this situation as you said.

In the mean time what does Imran Khan and PTI mean for Pakistan? Can we say that PTI is a liberal party?

Can we say that PTI is a liberal party?

PTI has come out as a strong force in Pakistan’s political scene and has done a lot in terms of holding the ruling parties accountable. However, the claim that PTI is a liberal party has been contested a lot, considering the soft corner it has displayed for perpetrators of terrorism in the country. It has on multiple occasions offered that Taliban even have their offices in KPK where PTI has a coalition government. It has over time come out as very right leaning in its policies. For example, even their Rs. 300 million grant to Dar ul Uloom Haqqania from the provincial budget of KPK has been widely criticized. PTI defended its decision claiming that the grant would help the students of the seminary in assimilating with society, but there is no evidence that the grant was going to be used for this purpose, and there is a lot of evidence that elements attached to this seminary have been actively and directly involved in terrorist activities.

 If the government changes in the 2018 elections, how does this affect the relations between Turkey and Pakistan?

Therefore a change in the ruling party is not likely to change the relations between Turkey and Pakistan…

As is known, the connections between Turkey and Pakistan are very old. Therefore a change in the ruling party is not likely to change the relations between Turkey and Pakistan because all current major political parties hold cordial views about this relationship and are likely to continue strengthening it.

 By the way  in recent months, Pakistan has become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the economic relationship with China has also advanced considerably. So can it be said that external forces are directly or indirectly influenced these events?

There is always the possibility of outside forces involved, especially when the economic situation of the country is improving and there is major economic investment happening right now. There may be indirect influence. When we look relation between china an Pakistan; it is similar to the relationship of Turkey and Pakistan, its relationship with China is also held in high esteem by all major political parties and is considered important for the socio-economic development of the country. The only difference that could take place would be related to the nuances of the projects that are currently underway with the cooperation of China. The general relationship will likely stay the same.

 

Thank you very much for all the comments and reviews.

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