Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s homecoming ally on GT Road has reached Jhelum, where his party’s leaders have managed to pull out a sizeable crowd as part of his show of street power that enters its third day today.
Mobilising his supporters is Sharif’s constitutional right but because he has chosen to do so to prove the point that demos are the source of power in a democracy he would do well to not lose sight of the larger issue: the need for strengthening constitutionalism and parliamentary democracy in this country. And unlike Sharif, we won’t mince our words when we say that supremacy of civilian institutions is at the heart of this problem.
But let us also be honest with ourselves and recognise that Sharif’s show of power along the GT Road alone is not going to be enough to fix that problem. The supremacy of civilian institutions remains a work in progress and the sad fact is that Sharif’s four years in office won’t be remembered for much headway in the positive direction.
Sharif was disqualified by the SC in a verdict criticised widely by civil society and the media. There were voices, including that of this newspaper, seeking a review of the judgement by the full court for its weak legal grounds. That said, the fact remains that Sharif’s party still controls the federal and two provincial governments with just a year left until the next general elections in the country.
So we advise the former Prime Minister to rethink his strategy and understand that he has achieved what he wanted to: a show of street power broadcasted live on TV by a media that are polarised like they have never been before. If the intention was to send a message to the powers that be ahead of accountability court references against he and his children — Sharif should know that the message has been sent. He now needs to move past the phase where he only plays the victim card and makes political speeches. For his counsels are very soon going to be returning to the legal battle they lost in the first round. Therefore, he should get down to preparations for the second round, for his own sake and for the sake of parliamentary democracy in this country. The time for political speeches will return very soon as the country moves closer to the next general election in 2018. *
Published in Daily Times, August 11th 2017.