EDITORIAL: Nawaz Sharif’s triumphant return proves not just that fortune is clearly smiling on him once again, but that it is because the tide turns so quickly in Pakistani politics.
How typical of this land that the outcast of yesterday, who was hounded, convicted, disqualified, and only allowed a special lifeline that he could term as “exile” to stay relevant and fight another day, has come back the hero.
And, again very typically, the populist who replaced him at the head of the new, one-page hybrid-regime finds himself in the thick of the downturn of the same cycle.
Since Nawaz’s warm welcome clearly extends to the same central pillars of state that once sealed his fate, for a while, his party is behaving as if his fourth term as prime minister has already begun, much like PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) considered the last general election a mere formality as Imran Khan was catapulted to the top.
Yet, this is not the only predictable trend in Pakistan’s politics. For, it is amply clear already that, if rumours are true and pieces are indeed being moved across the board for Nawaz, this new version of the old bad habit of political engineering is not going to turn Pakistan’s fortunes around.
Nawaz’s roadmap for the future, which was what everybody was waiting for when he addressed the large crowd in Lahore, didn’t extend beyond his own sad tale of endurance and declaration of no desire for revenge going forward. And everybody’s still in the dark about how the country’s biggest problems, especially the collapsing economy, will be addressed.
So, while the omens indicate that everything will be different at the top, nothing will really change for the common man except witnessing the next round of musical chairs that is, in fact, largely responsible for Pakistan’s dwindling fortunes; to the point that the country is dangerously close to default and still counting on the same people to save it that led it down this dark hole.
Instead of using the time away to delve deeply into Pakistan’s misfortunes and carve out a workable strategy for the future, alongside mulling over how to defeat his rivals and enemies of course, there seems to be belief that simply coming back and his becoming prime minister again would right all wrongs.
That is most likely why he pointed to high prices of various commodities, conveniently forgetting that his own party was in power for a year and a half when inflation and unemployment were breaking all records, and didn’t offer any solutions. Except the obvious suggestion, that all will be well once he ascends the throne again.
Ironically, that’s exactly how PTI behaved before its own election victory. Imran Khan’s speeches were laced with criticism of all others, with the indication that he was the man to take the bull by the horns.
Of course, he was just as clueless as everybody else when he did come to power, a trend that the people have come to understand only too well. They also know very well that the wind on Nawaz’s back might change PML-N’s fortunes, but it will do little for them.
They need a concrete plan of action; something that will show them when they will stop paying ridiculously inflated bills, when prices will come down, and when honest taxpayers will not have to cover for the greed and corruption of the more powerful and better connected.
If Nawaz’s (re)entry to the main stage can deliver that, then it would be worth their time and attention. Otherwise, it makes no difference to them who gets ahead for a while as the never-ending game of musical chairs goes on and on.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023