AN OVERWHELMING SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT, PART 1

Pakistanis have an entertainment deficit. There are very few options available. We all need
light hearted moments, activities that induce laughter in our lives. In yester
years we had cinema, circus and “melas”. Light hearted comedians of golden
years of cinema brought forth Zareef, Nazar, Munawar Zareef, Rangeela and
subtle Lehri. Pleasant memories still linger. Lucky Irani circus and similar
outfits toured the country providing joy and entertainment to starved populace.
These forms slowly passed away. The cinema has revived largely based on Indian
films. But the fun and frolic as a group activity seems to have withered away.
But we are a creative nation. We always find alternates. This time Pakistanis
found politics as a viable option.

Have a think. We are one of the most politicised nations globally. I do travel
around a lot and interact socially. Go to a dinner, a social get together,
after short preliminaries we invariably gravitate to discussing politics. So do
all the leading channels. They feed off political debates that leave you more
confused than enlightened. Greater the participants’ aggression, higher the
show’s rating. But the public’s appetite is insatiable because they have no
other form of entertainment! The “Sayasi theatre” goes on.

These days another comedy/circus has consumed the public entirely. Considering that
we are living in times of a clear and present danger, Pakistan is under threat
from an aggressive neighbour. It is led by a leader whose political survival
depends putting Pakistan in its proper place. It is a delicate situation. Yet
our electronic media is fixated on whether former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
is getting appropriate medical attention or not! There are two sides to the
coin. His supporters allege that the worst form of atrocity is being inflicted
upon him by denying appropriate medical attention. The Government is entirely defensive
repeatedly offering best medical care available as per Mr. Sharif’s preference
and choice. They have bent over backwards parking  ambulances inside the jail, should immediate
evacuation be required. Doctors are available around the clock. This comic soap
opera is unfolding on our national scene that is tantalizing the entire nation.

There is a need for reality check. A brief review of Nawaz Sharif’s ascent and
descent from power may help in this analysis. Nawaz Sharif was appointed
Finance Minister of Punjab in 1981 as scion of Sharif family with one point
agenda- to regain Ittefaq steel empire nationalized by Z.A. Bhutto. But fate
had other plans. Guided by his father Mian Sharif, Nawaz Sharif obediently moved
to the tunes of the Generals. This gave him tremendous dividends. He was elevated
as Chief Minister in 1985. Zia Ul Haq’s Punjab head, General Jilani Khan was
promoting new urban leadership to break the stranglehold of rural elite on the
power structure. What a breakthrough for the shy young man who would blush
easily. This is my recollection of Nawaz Sharif when I saw him during my days
in Punjab University as a close associate of then flamboyant Malik Nazeer of
Mubarik Cinema. According to a common friend, Malik now supports a beard nearly
half his height as a devout Muslim.

There was no looking back for Nawaz Sharif. He became the Prime Minister for 1st
time in 1990. It was facilitated by ISI’s money and influence and IJI was cobbled
together. I met him again as the chief guest at the opening ceremony of
Pakistan’s first private sector Seed Plant in Sahiwal. We had set it up in
partnership with a Global Seed Industry giant. He was a changed man. Exuding
confidence, he was a man in control. He and his family’s finances were on a
breathtaking upward trajectory. That lasted for a few years. Asserting power he
deployed the Gowalmandi tactic of using “takar” with the establishment. This
led to his first ouster as PM in 1993. Picking up the pieces he returned with a
massive victory in 1997 getting 2/3rd majority. But “takar”
continued. He removed Jahangir Karamat, and appointed General Pervez Musharraf,
his biggest blunder. General Musharraf did not take kindly to “takar”, he was
ousted again in 1999 from the office of Prime Minister. General Musharraf
assumed power with an agenda of accountability. Accountability had become a
center stage issue energetically pushed and promoted by Imran Khan. Nawaz
Sharif and family had been fast and loose in acquiring wealth through whatever
means. However behind bars Nawaz Sharif buckled. Had his Saudi friends
intervene and he fled Pakistan.

This re-cap was essential to understand what is going on now. The picture that
emerges is that when in power Nawaz Sharif is a Loin ready to take on the
world, but the moment he is out of office he turns into a tragic hero. His huge
media machine is busy painting this persona with a vengeance these days. After
living in exile till 2007, he had come to accept that he can enjoy power again
only if he makes a power sharing alliance with PPP. Hence the famed “Charter of
Democracy”.  This formula of musical
chairs worked well in 2008 and 2013. Then along came the spoiler named Imran
Khan. He had emerged as the 3rd power seriously challenging the
dancing duo of PMLN and PPP. It seems Providence finally smiled on the hapless
Pakistanis. We got the good fortune of having the Judiciary, Armed Forces, NAB
and Political leadership on the same page. Panama Papers emerged. The joint strategy
was to clean up the stables, catch the crooks and the corrupt and put Pakistan
finally on the path of progress. Nawaz Sharif, his family, Asif Zardari and his
lot who both enjoyed extended flings in power and looted the country to their
hearts content are finally answerable.

Nawaz Sharif is the first to be incarcerated. Suddenly the tragic hero emerges. Heart
disease is the most common disease amongst our comfortable elite. The most
difficult to track down is “angina pain”. I urge him to be the Lion he loves to
portray himself as and come out with the truth. He cannot handle jail, he wants
to enjoy the fruit of his loot in London. This is too inconvenient. Be the Lion
you portray yourself as and return the looted wealth estimated between 3 to 10
Billion US$ to the Pakistanis. Enjoy the cruises on French Riviera and let us
continue with our efforts to rebuild Pakistan

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