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.]