How Nawaz Sharif’s Speech Benefitted The PTI Government
Quite unexpectedly, Nawaz Sharif has finally broken the silence and has never been that loud and clear in his entire life. There are some interviews of Nawaz Sharif in which he can be seen making similar remarks about the establishment and Army Chief. But the audience of those interviews was very limited; some were not even aired. This was in fact the first time that millions of people were able to listen to ‘the speech’ because of the perk of the 21st century-smartphone. This is the first time that those who hate as well as those who love him were in parallel. Yet both went their own ways after the speech and it has opened a Pandora’s Box of who said what, when, how and where.
What seems to have triggered Nawaz Sharif’s courage to speak is a series of events and it all starts with the appointment of General Bajwa as the new Army Chief. The misfortune with Nawaz Sharif is that he ends up ruining relationship with two generals at the same time. The one who has been newly appointed and the other who has been told to go home. What Nawaz Sharif failed to understand up until even his last disqualification was that the faces do not matter. It is not that out of gratitude for having been selected despite being down on the Seniority list a newly appointed COAS would go easy on the PM. Nor would keeping the previous general and giving extension do any good.
What was always true and what Nawaz Sharif perhaps understands now is that the establishment is a completely different ball game. And the only party that has truly understood the game is the one with the least experience – PTI. Even with an unimpressive and unyielding governance it has no fear of losing the government, no fear of not being elected or selected again, no apprehension of accountability before people as well as courts, and the other usual privileges that come with being loyal.
PTI has managed to do that by strict adherence to the policy of appeasement to the bosses no matter what and utter neglect towards the common man. And frankly, if any government is to survive its tenure at all, this is the way to go about it. As such, people do not hold the power to usurp the government, the power lies where it lies.
Another major triggering event to the APC 2020 and the speech was the leak pertaining to General Asim Bajwa. In my last article, I had discussed as to how rapidly social media can change everything. While it may give one an opportunity to thrash the opportunity, it also gives the same to the thrashed. General Asim Bajwa despite being a very powerful man felt the urge to come to TV to somehow erase the sudden dirt on the image people had of him. Without much worry, hundreds and thousands of people made memes of pizza and the thing is still on.
Then the disappearance of an SECP official and then the proceedings before Islamabad High Court which were unprecedented. Matters worsened when cases were registered against some journalists recently and while the apprehension of being apprehended lurks on the heads of the rest. Things have been happening one after the other and that is perhaps what the opposition was waiting for.
Again, all this has gone in favour of the PTI team. In favour because while the rest of the crew in the plane is in panic and fighting over other things, who gives a dime about replacing the pilot? So the pilot Imran Khan though steering the plane towards a possible crash has less troubles to deal with at the moment. Quite often in situations such as these, the real issues like poverty and joblessness wither away; all the attention is taken over by the hoo-ha-while the confident young individuals also continue to defend the government. The speech has also favoured PTI in that all establishment is left with now is PTI and only PTI. The rest of the parties have grouped together, at least for now. This is the only tool they are left with to fight the civilian ninja turtles. And PTI can be seen capitalising on this most recent inadvertent boost given to them by their foes to further strengthen their relations with the establishment.
Obviously, the establishment had to backfire. And perhaps the ISPR must be missing General Asif Ghafoor, who in situations like these had the perfect rejoinders, daunting too. With him gone, it was all down to Sheikh Rasheed, a perfect opportunity for him too to rejuvenate his legacy of loyalty to the barracks. The man has been making bombastic speeches and threatening to unveil what is already known – politicians are the graduates of GHQ: That politicians quite often attend to the bosses and ask for favours, conciliation, approvals, and all the rest of it.
We need to dig deeper. The establishment of today is not just Army, it is an almost religion in which many civilians have also formed a mini community. In it are included the relatives of the army men, relatives of relatives, and countless unrelated civilians who have the belief that any person other than in uniform is not sincere to Pakistan. This philosophy has been strengthened over the time through constant flow of columns, discussions and endorsements by senior journalists who are champions of convincing power.
When General Musharraf opened the arena for private TV channels, he not only bestowed on the journalists an opportunity for free media but also a platform to reinforce this philosophy of ‘the sacred’. Therefore, we see a combination of both ‘The Hamid Mir’ types as well as ‘The Shabir Khakir’ types. A mere statement by DG ISPR acts as a fuel for further reinforcement of the idea that if it were not for them, Pakistan would not even have existed up until now. So it is not a secret any longer that there is another boss behind the boss, it is more of a cliché.
There are now in real two types of masses: one that envisions a free Pakistan and the other type that for many reason believes that if this country is to survive only the men in uniform are to govern and that too in perpetuity. In the last two years, these two masses have finally come face to face sharing common interests amongst themselves each. For instance, philosophically speaking JUI is an altogether different party than PPP and PML-N but the two have a common enemy or enemies at this moment in time.
Similarly, the classification of people in both the pro and anti establishment transcends down to the common man. As I said that this philosophy on both ends has become an almost religion. I have seen many people who despite having been severely affected financially, due to the poor management by PTI and despite having to pay almost double still support PTI and are happy to sacrifice whatever it takes. By this speech that Nawaz Sharif made, he has perhaps worn the hat to lead the other mass which is not much in number. However, it is hoping to catch a bigger mass which belongs to neither groups – establishment or the politicians.
That bigger mass is the common man, the man which is not much educated and does not care as far as civilian or military dominance is concerned. All these people want is two meals a day and a place to stay – that is all. In my view, this common man is more likely to identify itself with the group that offers this least demand or at least promises to do so. Presently the PTI-EST nexus seems incapable of providing even just this much, let alone the State of Madina. It is this group of people that Nawaz Sharif and company hopes to engage. Whether or not this attempt succeeds is on the wings of time.
In order for this war to remain cold, it is necessary that necessary steps are taken to at least bring the economy back to a sustainable position in which a common man can at least eat. Otherwise, this lack will ultimately help the cause of Nawaz Sharif and company even though they are likely to lose. This war is not in the interests of Pakistan as while both the politicians and Generals malign each other, Pakistan will continue to suffer. Please stop!