Is this the end for Nawaz Sharif?

Sharif’s downfall began a few years ago when Imran Khan questioned the origins of Nawaz Sharif’s property and assets in Pakistan and abroad

“Today, we have settled a score and have carried out five successful nuclear tests…” were the words of former prime minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif during his televised address to the nation on the eve of May 28, 1998, following his government’s successful nuclear tests. However, the real score was settled between the Supreme Court and Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N), when on Friday, July 6, when the court sentenced Nawaz Sharif to ten years of imprisonment in the infamous Avenfield reference case. Maryam Nawaz was sentenced to seven years.

While the public at large in Pakistan is acknowledging the justice served by the accountability court for this historic decision, this all began a few years ago when Imran Khan questioned the origin and source of Nawaz Sharif’s property and assets in Pakistan and abroad. Had the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) remained a mute witness, the country may have never seen Nawaz Sharif standing inside the court. However, with Nawaz Sharif now sentenced to imprisonment, the next step will be to bring back the taxpayer’s money that he has embezzled.

This verdict has perhaps changed Pakistan’s political fabric. Nawaz Sharif — the former three-time prime minister — who has served on various government offices since 1990 has been a key political leader of Pakistan. It is unfortunate that Nawaz Sharif’s three terms as prime minister ended prematurely. Although he was democratically elected thrice, his exit was quite humiliating.

It is yet to be seen what future Nawaz Sharif holds, however, it is evident that the masses now know that if a former prime minister can be penalised, other big fishes in the sea,who have been swimming freely after misusing their power, can also be brought to court.

The people must understand that corruption does exist in many forms in our society. It is the public who must curb this menace of corruption because when unchecked and unrestrained, dishonesty, sleaze and malpractices originate from the grassroots level to the top.

In the case of Nawaz Sharif, it was his corruption, combined with him being in a state of denial, which eventually led to his political demise. As such, his past merits study

In the case of Nawaz Sharif, it was his corruption, combined with him being in a state of denial, which eventually led to his political demise. What Nawaz Sharif did in the past must be studied and closely observed as a case study for it tells a lot about the way a man uses and abuses his power.

Interestingly, even after the court had publicised its sentence against Nawaz Sharif, many of his supporters protested their decision. This goes to show that a blind following only fuels a corrupt leader’s chances of being in power. Although Nawaz Sharif had a considerably positive image during his first tenure as prime minister from November 1990 to July 1993, he returned for his second tenure with much optimism. However, following his ousting during his second term in 1999 through a military coup by Pervez Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif’s national popularity did face a considerable decrement. Nawaz Sharif did return for his third term following the general elections of 2013. By this time only the diehard supporters of his party remained by his side, while the public at large was disillusioned with his politics. Furthermore, following the Panama Leaks, it became apparent that Nawaz Sharif was gradually losing the massive support he had enjoyed for so long.

It was perhaps political suicide when Nawaz Sharif began asking Mujhay Kyun Nikala? (Why was I expelled?) during rallies following the court’s decision to disqualify him in July 2017, forcing him to step down as the prime minister. What followed was Imran Khan explaining in his rallies the very reasons why Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, eventually helping to cement Khan’s position in politics and further diluting Sharif’s political status. It is yet to be seen when Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan and actually face the music that awaits him.

It is for certain that the influence of Nawaz Sharif over Pakistan’s politics is now over and the era of Sharif has ended. Politics being a game of chess requires parties and leaders to play their moves with caution. It is now time for Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari to make their moves. While Imran Khan has gained much political weight following Nawaz’s court decision, Asif Ali Zardari could also be gearing up to enjoy some political leverage following the upcoming general elections. However, many believe Zardari will face a similar fate akin to Sharif. Whether this will ever happens is a question for another time; today it is just heartening to see a long time criminal being finally brought to justice.

The writer is a columnist and author of You Rise Today!

Published in Daily Times, July 9th 2018.