Nawaz Arrested and Deported

Nawaz Sharif was arrested almost as soon as he landed on corruption charges from a sugar mill he used to money-launder while he was prime-minister. He’s once again in Saudi Arabia, running a campaign from afar. Story at UK Telegraph:

Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister of Pakistan, has been deported to Saudi Arabia within hours of his much-anticipated return from exile.
He was arrested in relation to corruption charges on his arrival at Islamabad airport.
Four hours later he was put on a plane to Saudi Arabia, where he has spent most of the eight years since being deposed.
Mr Sharif arrived in the country vowing to topple the regime of President Pervez Musharraf. At least 2,000 of his supporters were arrested in advance of his return.
Armed police entered the Pakistan International Airlines jet on which he arrived from London after Mr Sharif refused to hand over his passport to officials on the plane.

While the western press and many in Pakistan are painting this as a blow against Democracy; I’m not so sure.

Let’s look at the real facts:

  • The corruption charge is real
  • As Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did try to have the constitution ammended to give himself dictatorial powers.
  • As Prime Minister he armed, funded, and fed the Taliban.
  • As Prime Minister he enacted laws that made the Amahdi sect “Non-Muslim”. [editor: a commenter has corrected this statement, I misread some charts in Wiki to come to this conclusion–I should know better. This happened when BB’s father ruled.]
  • He is tightly tied to Jamaat Islameyah, the Islamist association within Pakistan (think of JI as the Moose or Masonic lodge for Madraassah students.)
  • Yesterday the political party of the Taliban, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA,) endorsed him.
  • Yesterday a threat letter went out to all National Assembly members from the Taliban stating that if they voted for Musharraf as President that they and their families would be subject to suicide bomber attacks.

When you put those pieces all together, it just doesn’t look good for the future of Pakistan if Nawaz does return and get elected. On the other hand, the real choices the Pakistanis have are dismal – they are on a merry-go-round of Sharif/Bhutto/Military, Sharif/Bhutto/Military… always trying to grasp for the brass ring of liberty as it passes by. Similar to the government south of us in Mexico, a few families rule in rotation, it’s democracy of a sort — but not true liberty, and as such it encourages institutionalized corruption.

Look at the history leading into this as well — there’s been a steady campaign of destabilization against Musharraf for ten months now, ever since the Mujahadeen, or terrorist camps in the Kashmir region were shut down.

At the same time there’s been a steadily growing wave of Talibanisation, with Baitullah Mehsud leading the charge. Baitullah is getting money and support from somewhere. The Red Mosque incident, the assassination attempts against government officials,  and other examples of steadily increasing terrorist activity inside and against Pakistan are being coordinated somewhere by someone.

While I don’t have any clear direct ties to the Taliban other than the past actions of Nawaz as Prime Minister, I bet that if the press were to get off their duffs in Pakistan and do some research that they could be found.

More at the Washington Post where they outline the power centers of Pakistani politics, and tell the tale of the Doctor who could not run, as well as the Soccer-player party. The one party they neglected: the foreign lobbies. All of the parties have been subject at times to extreme foreign influence. While many rail at Musharraf as “being a puppet of the west”, the other candidates had strings pulled by many foreign nations as well.

There is also more at Metroblogging Islamabad, the city where Nawaz Sharif landed. Please read through the comments to get a sense of how the Pakistanis are thinking.

[Editor: as a commenter noted the MMA endorsement has been given to Musharraf in the past as well; they do have a tendency to hitch to the latest populist wagon – right now that is the wagon of getting rid of military rule.]

6 Replies to “Nawaz Arrested and Deported”

  1. Thanos, that’s a very interesting viewpoint. First of all, I’d like to clear a few things. Corruption will happen in Pakistan, that isthe flaw in our system. The government, Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto etc., all of them are one and the same. The Sharifs weren’t any different.

    Secondly, Sharif wasn’t the one to declare Ahmadis non-muslims. That was done way before him in 1974, by Benazir Bhutto’s father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

    Thirdly, it is no doubt correct that the Taleban were supported by the Sharif government, but the “secular” Bhutto government was the one who helped set them up in the first place. The Musharraf regime also continued that support and possibly would have if it wasn’t for 9/11.

    I personally don’t support Sharif’s policies. For that matter, I don’t support either Musharraf and Bhutto either. Politics in Pakistan are identity based not issues based. In our system, the only one who makes sense is Imran Khan but sadly he doesn’t have a wider base. Anyways, the reason alot of Pakistanis right now support Nawaz are that he’s the only leader actually focussed on getting Musharraf out of power.

    Musharraf, over the years, has gone arrogant and incompetent. Human rights violations such as disappearances of critical voices and the sacking of the Chief Justice are some factors which don’t really endear him to the public anymore. There was hope when he initially came that he would make things different for Pakistanis, but that hasn’t really happened.

    What has happened is that the Islamist threat has never been greater to Pakistan. Pakistanis in general vote, dont vote for MMA or the likes. They just seem to get prominent under every dictator. You should realise that the 2002 elections conducted by the Musharraf regime were the first ones with such a high number of seats in the Parliament going to the Islamists. Also, Pervez Musharraf wasn’t afraid to court them when he needed support for his election as a president and he is getting in touch with them again to maintain grab onto power for as long as he can.

    The relationship of the military has always been alot more closer to the Islamist parties especially since the Soviet Invasion, when the US government funded and provided money to train the Mujahideen and today’s Taliban via Pakistan. That associationlasted even after the fall of the Soviet Union and well into the 90’s when Sharif was in power. Nawaz Sharif, definitely, is conservative, but the suggestion that he is involved in funding unrest is not very strong. The military in Pakistan has always been strong (and resisted answering to civilian governments) and if you do a little bit of research, you can easily find how the intelligence wing – ISI – still maintains links with the Islamist parties.

    The situation on ground is far more complicated than you think and blaming Nawaz Sharif for the rise in religious intolerance in Pakistan is more or less absurd. The problem started in the 1980’s under a dictator and has been made worse 20 years later by another one.

  2. First, thanks for stopping by, your comments and corrections are appreciated. I am not trying to say that Nawaz is the kingpin of the Taliban, but I am questioning the motives of his return, he might not even realize where the encouragement to return came from for instance.

    The choice is narrowed now it seems, which is a shame — that I do regret.
    Musharraf definitely has made mistakes, often the options when you are responsible for millions of people’s lives are narrower than most would think however. You left out the Pemra ordinance, I did not care for that “mushtake” either. 🙂

    On the other hand, how often will Pakistan vote for a change that represents no change ? Will the Musharraf plan to transition to democracy work if he removes the uniform? Not for me to answer, but for the voters of Pakistan.

    I think Pakistanis need to focus on issues and principles more, personalities less.. Just my humble opinion.

  3. I agree with you. The problem is that who else do we have to vote for. What Pakistanis hope with the increased exposure by media and the independence of the Supreme court is that hopefully things will slowly come on track. Right now, we might not have an option but it gets the ball rolling for long term changes. The military starts moving out of politics, and acts more like an army than a state within a state. Plus, whatever government comes next will realise that the media will be watching their every move – which Musharraf deserves credit for. Therefore, hopefully if not today, but if fair and free elections happen, the army gets its act together and the new government lasts a full term, it might set up a “proper” democracy in Pakistan in 20-25 years.

    About personalities, I reckon alot of people in urban areas would agree. The problem starts in rural areas, where the politicians derive their power from (since most of them are feudals anyway). It is definitely important to break the power of these feudals and facilitate grass root leadership. Sadly, alot of bright and talented people with so much potential don’t enter the political arena just because of the dirty politics of the people already there. It’s only because of this, I personally, support Imran Khan alot, because he talks about issues and principles, he doesn’t have an army, islamists, feudals or political dynasty to support his party.

  4. I will have to check out Imran Khan a bit. Just remember, even in America where we’ve had Democracy a long time it’s still a slow, imperfect, and somtimes painful process. It takes perseverance.

  5. Well, Hassan, if you like Imran Khan… for me, he’s no favorite. From Wikipedia:

    In 2005, as leader of his party, Imran led a protest rally against the US-led coalition for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran and made statements denouncing the Musharraf-Bush coalition.[citation needed] He described Musharraf as President Bush’s Blue-Eye-Boy, however President Clinton was even reluctant to shake hands with Musharraf. Imran continues to be critical of Pro-American policies of Pakistan government. According to a senior leader of PTI “Khan has more than a soft corner for the ousted Afghan Taliban” [13]
    About 700 Muslim activists and members of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s party chanted “Curse Rushdie, Long Live Osama (Bin Laden)” in northwestern Peshawar.”. [14]

    Well, it doesn’t seem very moderate to me… 🙁

  6. Vorzheva, what alot of people fail to understand that the Bush Administration is not popular in Pakistan at all. This is not because we, Pakistanis, don’t like the US, we don’t like the foreign policy. It’s made worse by the fact that this is the fourth time the US has supported a dictator in Pakistan, each time weakening the institutions in Pakistan.

    About, that statement on Taliban, I’m a bit baffled as well but I’m not sure how true it is. Looking at Imran Khan’s life, he’s not not even close ideologically to the Taliban. He married a woman of Jewish heritage, has a child out of wedlock, which his opponents will point out happily anyday.

    About, Salman Rushdie, I must admit it disappointed alot of Muslims that he was knighted but knowing Pakistan, I wouldn’t take the slogan too seriously. Most of these rants are usually emotion driven and may not necessarily endorse the point of the leader. Also, Peshawar in general is a very conservative area within Pakistan.

    Finally, I just want to point out that, a good leader definitely won’t mean a pro-American foreign policy. In the past six years, the war in the tribal areas has been highly popular not because of ideology, but because of the government killing its own people, also demoralising the Army, the incompetence of Pervaiz Musharraf to handle the situation properly, eventually creating situations like the Lal Masjid, increasing the volatility in Pakistan with suicide bombings on the rise everyday and finally not being able to effectively reform the education system, which gave rise to virulent Madrassahs capable of producing extremists.

    P.S. I must add a madrassah is just an arabic/translation of the word school, not all madrassahs are bad, some of them are doing great jobs at providing mainstream education along with religious education to alot of people who would never have access to a school otherwise.

Comments are closed.