Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

The Consequence of Sharif’s fall on Afghan-Pak Relation

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The Consequence of Sharif’s fall on Afghan-Pak Relation

Pakistan’s Supreme Court (SC) disqualified Nawaz Sharif in July 28 and moment after the verdict he stepped down from the seat of prime minister. Subsequently, the ruling party has appointed Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was the petroleum minister till Friday, as interim premier. Nawaz’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif and the current chief minister of Panjab will predictably succeed him.
Last year Panama Papers, also dubbed as Panamagate, showed three of Nawaz’s children – Hussain, Hasan and Maryam – owned at least three off-shore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Maryam Sharif played a key role in her father’s favor in Pakistan’s 2013 election through gaining strong support from youths despite the challenging issues posed by former cricketer and chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Now she herself has changed into a pitfall for Nawaz – who was disqualified based on Maryam’s case. The future of Maryam, who was imagined to grow into a hereditary politician similar to Benazir Bhutto, is also at stake. As a Punjabi influential technocrat and PML-N’s representative and leader, Nawaz came to power twice through general election but failed to accomplish his periods. As the representative of the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA) – composed of Muslim League and Jammat-e-Islami, he won the election in October 1990, but dismissed as premier by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in April 1993. Nonetheless, the SC issued decree in Nawaz’s favor as he regained his seat after a month and so. With the continuation of tension, both the premier and president stepped down in July 1993. Nawaz was elected as prime minster for the second time in 1997 and his power collapsed after the bloodless coup carried out by Parvez Musharraf in October 1999. The May 2013 election marked the third victory for him, who was disqualified by SC as a result of Maryam’s financial case. Now the question is that what will be the consequence of Sharif’s disqualification over the Afghan-Pak relation?
Pakistan bears an ideological political system which is highly unpredictable. Despite the view of Mohammad Ali Jinnah – Pakistan’s founding father who established Muslim League and supported a secular system – Pakistan was constituted as an Islamic state i.e. a modern country based on Islamic tenets. Alongside religious-political movements such as Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan, Mohammad Iqbal Lahori and Abul A’la Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, played a key role in Islamizing Pakistan. The slow process of the constitution of Pakistan from 1948 to 1956 indicated the controversial discourse between Jinnah’s secular government and Islamic government of Islamists which gained upper hand. In ideological administrations, the basis of analysis will be the duality of ideal and reality rather than tradition and modernity. Based on this analysis, Islamic state is considered as an ideal and utopia. On the other hand, the current realities in political system are in conflict with those ideals which will result in strengthening conflict and weakening the state.
Furthermore, it is believed that political analysts may consider issues based on the appearance such as constitution, political parties, parliamentary system and other apparent features, whereas the deeper layers and realities affecting political interactions will be otherwise. In fact, Pakistan is still the legacy of feudalism and colonialism. Asif Hussein Pakistani the author of a book titled “The Islamic World from Various Political Perspectives” quotes a Pakistani Proverb which explains the internal and external forms of the political system in Pakistan. The proverb says that each elephant has two pairs of tusks one for eating and next for showing. It is believed that political parties and SC which disqualified Nawaz are the symbolic tusks (for showing) and the real tusks are veiled in secrecy. That is to say, Nawaz’s brother who will be voted to be the prime minister reflects the feudal tusks.
The political administration in Pakistan is based on elite system in which only few are ruling and the majority are subject to it. Therefore, one can claim that the elites are the key players and political parties are no more than vehicles for extending the power of elites. For example, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is one of the powerful parties with the tendency of Islamic socialism which has been one of the foundations of power over the past four decades. This party is under the control of Bhutto family. For example, it was run by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and now by Bilawal Zardari Bhutto. Moreover, Muslim League, Pakistan’s oldest political party, founded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1906 had the lion’s share in power. Since the 1990s, it was divided into two branches of Nawaz, which is known as the party of “Sharif’s brothers”, and Qayed Azam due to the disagreements between Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf.  Asif Hussein divides Pakistani elites into three groups: the traditional elites (Mongolian period), the colonial elites (connected to the British) and the newly formed elites (the period after independence). Here, the bureaucratic elites, including Sharif’s family, along with the military elites had the most political influence.
In addition, political instability and militarism have compounded the issue further for prediction. Within the seven decades of political life, Pakistan experienced consistent political instability and even the influence and authority of military. That is to say, more than 26 prime ministers were experienced i.e. one premier for two and half years. No premier had accomplished their legal period which is for five years. Pakistan has also experienced three successful military coups and several failed coups. The military regimes of General Ayoub Khan (1958-1971), General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) and General Pervez Musharraf (1999- 2008) were the product of military coups that governed the country by military rule. The military role has been prominent in Pakistan. Pakistan’s ruling party regards the recent verdict by the Supreme Court on Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification under the influence of the military.
To sum up, the aforementioned issues make it hard to predict the consequence of Sharif’s disqualification over the Afghan-Pak relations. However, this is both an opportunity and a threat for Afghanistan. Filling this vacuum will not bring a palpable change in Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan.

Mohammad Qasim Erfani is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at the outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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