Published:  12:37 AM, 11 July 2018

Pakistan's sham democracy where army still has a huge clout

Pakistan's sham democracy where army still has a huge clout Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. -AP

The former Pakistan prime minister has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by an anti-corruption court in Pakistan. Corruption allegation has been brought against Sharif, his daughter Maryam, and her husband and various degrees of sentences have been given against them for owing four luxurious apartments. 

This verdict has been given less than three weeks before the general election, which will have pretty severe implications for the Sharif family.

It should be noted here that the Panama Leaks divulged last year that Sharif and his family members had obtained substantial overseas assets including luxurious apartments and villas in London and Dubai. Now Sharif is in London to take care of his gravely ill wife who is in hospital.

In the absence of an extradition treaty between the UK and Pakistan, it totally depends whether Sharif is determined to go back and face all the convictions brought against him and his family members. 

This verdict makes us feel like Pakistan is a real democratic country and its judiciary is an independent entity. But before this verdict, the Supreme Court overstepped the proper limits of its power disqualifying Sharif from holding the prime minister-ship when it was the job of the parliament to impeach him for any wrongdoings. 

The relationship between Sharif and the army had never been good at all. He took many decisions that either went against the army interests or it did not like them. In the history of Pakistan, no prime minister was able to complete their 5 years term. This was the third time; Sharif was removed from the office. 

The first time, he was removed by the executive, second time by the military, and for the third time, he was removed by the judiciary. It would have been a history if he could have finished any of his three terms. 

It is widely believed that the army was behind Sharif's removal from the power masquerading as the judiciary. It is obvious this was an intrigue masterminded by the political establishment and the army with whom he had been at loggerheads over the many issues. 

Before even hearing was finished in the Supreme Court, he was removed from the power in a way as if behind the scenes, a lot of tricks and pressure were going on over the judges to sideline him, and the apex court disqualified him as the prime minister for not being truthful in his tax returns one year ago.
 
This kind of judicial procedure is hardly seen in a real democratic society. It is highly doubtful whether Pakistan judiciary is really an independent entity. 

Recently, in a thinly-veiled remark, he insinuated that his foreign policy stance and refusal to drop a treason case against former army dictator Pervez Musharraf were the reasons being him removed from the office by the military. 

A sham democracy has been prevailing in Pakistan since its birth, where the real ruler is the army who can tie the judges' hands up if a possible rule could go against the army interest or will. Judiciary is an instrument in the hands of military and military is a major political force behind the scene. 

A long drawn battle that has been going on with the army and the political establishment that either as the sitting prime minister you need to comply with the army or take the risk of being sidelined or disqualified by any tricks.

 Though all the lawsuits filed against Sharif were politically motivated, and yet the people of Pakistan and beyond know without the shadow of a doubt that he amassed a huge fortune from the ill-gotten money. 

Interestingly enough, like Sharif, every previous prime minister has had apartments and villas in London and Dubai, for example, both Benazir and General Musharraf family, who own residential assets overseas. 

How can a general afford to have posh apartments with their salary? But no allegation was brought against them to bring them to justice. 

So Military was behind Sharif's removal and it was a politically motivated one to bring an end to his political career. It was a political death of him masterminded by the army with the help of judiciary. 

Imran Khan is the cornerstone of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI, who is a proxy of the army. He is one of the main contenders in the general election. 

There is a public perception that he has been hobnobbing with the army personnel to find favor with the military establishment. He has been particularly vocal in his criticism of Sharif for his overseas money laundering. 

The Other two contenders and most popular leaders in the upcoming election are Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto who is making a political debut in the port city of Karachi. It is highly unlikely that both the leaders if elected, will be doing their prime-ministerial job as well as they schmooze with the military establishment. 

Pakistan Muslim League (MLN) is still a dominant party in the politics. After the conviction of Sharif, of course, a political vacuum has created in the country. Shahbaz Sharif is organizing the campaign but he is not the as good organizer and leader as his brother. 

No doubt, he is a popular leader in Punjab but not all across the country. He is not a charismatic leader like his brother to reach out to people throughout the country. 

It seems Imran Khan is not as popular as the other two leaders all over the country. However, it doesn't matter who will be taking over the government but have to make an ally with the military establishment to run the country smoothly or they cannot complete their five years term in office. 


The writer, a Bangladeshi
freethinker, is based in
Toronto, Canada

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