Nawaz Sharif’s return: India must bat for ‘total democracy’ in Pakistan now, say experts
“He (Nawaz Sharif) has been critical of Pakistani military. He has been in favour of a strong civilian leadership and strong India-Pakistan ties,” said defence and security experts
India must support a ‘total democracy’ in Pakistan which is not influenced by the country’s powerful military and its spy agency, security analysts say, amid the ongoing political upheaval in the neighbouring country where former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz face lengthy jail terms over allegations of corruption after returning to their homeland on Friday evening.
Noting that Nawaz Sharif is a “friend of India,” defence expert and veteran journalist Qamar Agha highlighted that the chief of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) may well have been unfairly prosecuted. “He has been critical of the Pakistani military over its failure to contain militancy. He has been in favour of a strong civilian leadership and strong India-Pakistan ties,” Agha told National Herald.
“The prosecution of Nawaz Sharif has also been very selective. For instance, Imran Khan is also said to be involved in several corruption scandals. There is no hue and cry over his involvement,” he said.
Agha, who has reported from Pakistan, stated that a strong civilian leadership in Pakistan would always be in India’s favour and conducive to the India-Pakistan peace process, which has been in limbo owing to Pakistani securities’ agencies backing of cross-border terrorism on Indian targets.
Colonel (retired) Jaibans Singh, an Indian Army veteran who has served in Kashmir, struck a similar note, stating that India must support “total democracy in Pakistan.”
“Being the largest democracy in the world, a righteous stand for India would be to support total democracy in neighbouring Pakistan. A democracy that is not influenced by the proxy rule of its Army,” Colonel Singh told NH.
“The issue here is not which political leader of Pakistan is good for India otherwise. The issue is -what is good for the people of Pakistan and the world at large,” added the former Indian Army officer.
The remarks by Pakistan watchers come as the country witnesses a groundswell of support for Sharif, with thousands of his supports reportedly taking to streets in a show of solidarity with their leader.
Despite his shortcomings, Nawaz Sharif was the favourite to clinch the election in opinion polls conducted earlier this year, a position that may well have been cemented by his return to Pakistan.As of May, Nawaz Sharif led Imran Khan in personal popularity by 50% to 45%
Sharif faces a formidable contender in Imran Khan, the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, who has tapped into the country’s fundamentalist Islamist base and is said to be a favourite of the military for July 25 national vote.
It has been reported in Pakistani media that Sharif fell out of favour with the military-mullah nexus after refusing the army’s request to send troops to Saudi Arabia and reciprocating peace overtures of India. Sharif also touched a raw nerve in Pakistan’s fundamentalist circles by attending Holi celebrations and sanctioning funds for the restoration of temples, before he was ousted by the country’s top court over his name featuring in Panama Papers.
Despite his shortcomings, Sharif was the favourite to clinch the election in opinion polls conducted earlier this year, a position that may well have been cemented by his return to Pakistan.
As of May, Nawaz Sharif led Imran Khan in personal popularity by 50% to 45%, according to a Gallup Pakistan poll.
Qamar Agha agrees. He said, “I could tell you from the conversations I have had with Pakistanis over recent days that he is still very popular in Pakistan, especially among the Punjabi community. He has brought in a lot of development in Pakistan, including building infrastructure and electricity projects.”
As the ancient city of Lahore was put in virtual lockdown by security agencies with no press access, it was all left to Twitter to convey the prevailing emotion to the world in the metropolis as Sharif’s flight landed late Friday evening. The videos and pictures coming out said it all- that outpouring of sympathy and support for Sharif was unprecedented.
- Nawaz Sharif
- Panama Papers
- Imran Khan
- cross-border terrorism
- Pakistan Muslim League (N)
- Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf
- Pakistan Elections
- Maryam Nawaz