Despite Being First Choice Of Army, Why Did Nawaz Sharif Opt Out Of Race For Premiership Of Pakistan?

Despite Being First Choice Of Army, Why Did Nawaz Sharif Opt Out Of Race For Premiership Of Pakistan?

Analysts opine that the new coalition government is bound to be weak and fragile hence delivery expectations on domestic and international fronts must be based on logical conclusion and limitations of new dispensation in Pakistan

KS TomarUpdated: Saturday, February 17, 2024, 10:36 PM IST
article-image
Pakistan's ex-PM Nawaz Sharif |

A lively and geo-political issue is being debated worldwide especially in Pakistan which pertains to ‘mysterious’ decision of three-time prime minister, Nawaz Sharif to Suo moto opt out of the race for premiership and subsequently nominating his younger brother, Shabhaz Sharif for the top slot though he was a favorite of powerful military, obviously current army chief, Asim Munir, who had scripted the entire episode to enthrone him.

Foreign policy experts say that it was on the analogy of former PM, Imran Khan who was saddled in the chair due to open patronage of Ex-Army chief, Quamar Javed Bajwa but both fell apart owing to fighting for supremacy. It was a paradox and a typical case of “servant” challenging the authority of “Master” which may happen in this dispensation also but Nawaz as a “shadow PM” may not permit it as he has got a bitter experience of being ousted by army from the post in 2018.

An important takeaways responsible for nawaz’s decision to surrender the post of PM

Analysts are convinced that owing to compelling circumstances, Ex PM, Nawaz played his cards well hence the choice fell on his brother which will also ensure the continuity of “Family Rule”in Pakistan. Yet, another addition will be Maryam Nawaz who is poised to become chief minister of most important province of Punjab. 2nd,army had meticulously planned to keep Imran Khan out of political process hence more than 150 cases were registered against him by previous regime and courts have handed out him out the punishment in three cases which exceeds 24 years.3rd,due to Imran’s tirade against army ,Nawaz was brought to Pakistan last year from self-exile in London which preceded supreme court’s decision in 2018 to sentence him for ten -year imprisonment and a fine of $10.6 million in corruption case related to Panama papers of illegal properties abroad. He was disqualified hence fled to London to fight his battle. Nawaz’s brother Shebhaz headed the government in Pakistan which ensured adoption of bill in parliament on June 25,2023 which limited the lifetime disqualification of lawmakers to 5 years .It was meant to pave the way for the return of his elder brother to resume his political activities in Pakistan.4th,Nawaz’s critics allege that stage was set for “mass scale rigging” to help him to become PM but game plan went haywire as independents supported by Imran from jail won majority of the seats and Nawaz’s party PML-N could not get even simple majority which shattered the dream  of Nawaz who was averse to heading a minority government.5th,Nawaz nominated Shebhaz because he was having an experience of heading coalition government and as a flexible politician who could take partners along .6th, Nawaz would have found it difficult in parliament as Imran’s loyalists were ready with a lot of ammunition to put him on the mat on corruption whereas Shebhaz is better placed so far. Finally, Nawaz and the army chief are on the same page which may help the new government to appease the sentiments and fulfil the aspirations of the people who are facing the problem of survival.

IMF preconditions

It will be the most difficult task of Shebhaz government to implement the harsh preconditions of IMF which had released USD 710 million second tranche of a USD 3 billion loan to the cash-strapped country to stabilize its debt-ridden economy. Shebhaz’s previous government had successfully negotiated with IMF to procure the “bailout Package” which needs to be clinched.  The IMF had saved Pakistan from economic collapse as Pakistan’s reserves stood at $7.8 billion as on Nov. 18, 2023 barely enough to cover imports for a month.  The people are reeling under inflation which has touched to the level of 30% and prices of essential commodities are beyond the capacity of consumers. The floods had caused losses of   billions and thousands of lives were lost hence the new PM will have to take care of rehabilitation task which are in disarray.  The floods had caused tremendous losses of USD 3.3. trillion in June-October,2022 besides killing1839 people which must be uppermost in the priorities of the new government as victims are still craving for relief and rehabilitation task which seem to be in disarray.

China's role is crucial

China has treaded cautiously and did not touch the sensitive issue of rigging whereas the United States and EU demanded the investigation into the allegations. China had come to the rescue of Pakistan several times but the cost has been beyond the imagination of this poor country. China's debt policy has entrapped Pakistan which has procured a heavy loan and the Chinese investment has risen $65 billion in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)by 2022. China has already acquired control of Gwadar Port on 16 May 2013 which may be retained in lieu of lease guarantee in future. 

Originally valued at $46 billion, the value of China Pakistan Economic Corridor had been worth $62 billion as of 2020. India and US are opposed to BRI hence Nawaz will have to treadkashkash cautiously to keep as China in check to save his country from debt trap policy. China will be looking for the security protection of its projects in Pakistan hence it may develop cordial relations with Shebhaz government. Experts say that the United States wanted to see the back of Imran who had accused it of conspiring with the army to oust him from power.US has got history of having direct ties with army generals hence it may find it easy to deal with the new government. India can expect Nawaz to influence Shebhaz to take initiative to start dialogue with India which has already created its space in the world arena and economic ties can help the beleaguered people of this poor country.  

Analysts opine that the new coalition government is bound to be weak and fragile hence delivery expectations on domestic and international fronts must be based on logical conclusion and limitations of new dispensation in Pakistan.

(The writer is a political analyst who is having a six year stint of posting in a neighboring country.)  

RECENT STORIES

Political Discourse Hits New Low As PM Modi Resorts To 'Muslim Bashing'

Political Discourse Hits New Low As PM Modi Resorts To 'Muslim Bashing'

Analysis: One-Man Show Is Not Healthy For Our Democracy

Analysis: One-Man Show Is Not Healthy For Our Democracy

Analysis: We Need Consensus On Growth And Job Creation

Analysis: We Need Consensus On Growth And Job Creation

Editorial: Keep Faith In Voting Machines

Editorial: Keep Faith In Voting Machines

Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises...

Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Voter Turnout Decline in Western Uttar Pradesh Raises...