Battle Royale is on, with Pakistan Muslim League supremo Nawaz Sharif declaring the ‘final war’ against the alleged Selectors of the Selected, Prime Minister Imran Khan, political mercury is rising with every passing day. As heated politi-cal arena suites Nawaz Sharif, he seems bent on fanning the flames till it all turns into one big political inferno. The system is also giving him opportunities, the latest coming through Islamabad High Court, directing Nawaz to ‘surrender’ and then the registra-tion of sedition case against him in Lahore by a dubious applicant.
Since his All Parties Conference speech on September 20, Nawaz has delivered three more within a couple of weeks, reiterating his stance against the stolen elections and ensuing bad governance. Not even once in all these speeches, did he forget to mention those ‘who violate their oath and meddle in politics’. This is unprecedented. No national political leader of ‘West Pakistan’ has ever named ‘them’ as unequivocally and consistently as Nawaz. Little wonder then that Nawaz is dubbed a traitor by the rival camp, the first one from the province of Punjab, as hitherto the title was reserved for the leaders of all provinces but Punjab.
In 1954 elections in Bengal, the Jugtoo Front decimated the League. The leaders of the Front including Fazlul Haq, Bhashani, and Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardi have declared traitors fostering anti-Pakistan sentiments to garner votes, it was alleged. Insanity conquered new heights in the 1965 presidential elections when Madar e Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah was termed a traitor by General Ayub Khan. Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman was a traitor too, and all those who followed him were mini-traitors, meaning, all Bengalis, the majority of Pakistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto were also labeled as traitors and security risks. All the above-mentioned politicians were non-Punjabis, Nawaz is not. He is the first Punjabi to earn the status of a traitor. This is uncharted territory. Will it throw up surprises? Wait and see!
The Nawaz vote-bank seems to have rejected similar allegations against Nawaz after the ‘Dawn Leaks’ or his alleged meetings with Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal. The leaked content of infamous volume 10 of the Panama JIT, alleging Nawaz’ business interests in India also failed to erode his support base.
What does Nawaz have in his arsenal against his powerful political and apolitical adversaries? It is the support of the people, he seems to believe, while the entire system apparently is loaded against him. Under this dispensation, unlike the lawyers’ movement, he cannot expect to receive a decisive telephone call in the middle of a Long March. He will have to fight this battle until the very end.
Without fear of contradiction, it can be said that Nawaz Sharif has remained one of the two most popular politicians of Pakistan for three decades, first sharing the honor with Benazir Bhutto and then with Imran Khan. With his vote-bank intact, he still enjoys the same status. During these three decades, however, another fact has also remained constant – his supporters, come out in throngs to vote for him but do not opt to participate in protests or agitational politics. Nawaz wants to change that. How? Inflation, the killer of the common man, is perhaps his biggest asset at the moment. The planning is, insiders reveal, to underline the skyrocketing prices of almost everything, from medicine to essential food items; and gradually build the movement’s momentum around it. Obviously, vote ko izzat does and the restoration of the sanctity of the constitution will remain the main planks of Sharif’s political rhetoric.
Article by: Hammad Ghaznavi