Nawaz Sharif’s return and Pakistani politics

With the Supreme Court verdict going in Nawaz Sharif’s favor, the nation awaits his arrival. There doesn’t seem to be anything that should delay his coming back to Pakistan. As Talat Hussein noted, his arrival after the presidential elections, particularly would cast serious doubts on his sincerity to the revival of democracy in this country, a movement that by now has managed to gather all sections of the Pakistani society through a common aspiration and goal. The very judgment that can help him consolidate his rising popularity in the country could very well signal an unceremonious exit from the political landscape emerging in Pakistan as the nation expectantly gears up for the triumph of constitutionalism and civil governance. The great expectations that have now been pinned on him, the only guard left standing after BB’s deal and Fazlur Rehman’s past record haunting him, could turn the tides either way.

Actually for a very keen observer, things have started changing. Nawaz Sharif’s tone has become more conciliatory. The usually flamboyant and unrestrained persona has taken a turn for the cautious and wary politician. He talks about national reconciliation now when earlier he would find it difficult to find his breath lambasting the Musharraf regime. His replies are filled with ifs and buts when asked about the destiny of the turncoats who abandoned the party. He is hesitant to mark out a timeline for his return to Pakistan.

Is there more to it than meets the eye? Does the government’s concern for the “third party” really carry some weight? Is the Saudi Government actually as seriously involved as the Musharraf regime had us believe? And how do they ascertain that their guarantee stands strong? Where do these guarantors stand now that the Supreme Court has allowed the Sharif brothers to return. If really there was such a deal or even just a verbal undertaking, then Musharraf would certainly find himself terribly wronged, and he would make sure to remind the Saudis of their promise.

The coming times will unravel the mysteries surrounding the deal and Sharif’s own credibility will be put under test. Many who were perturbed over the corruption charges against Nawaz Sharif had realized that democracy being the foremost issue in Pakistani politics today, he was the best bet in the coming elections with the Imrans and Qazis forming a formidable alliance. If now he turns out to be just a small fish in the gloated façade that we had been watching on our tv screens, that overwhelming increase in his stature will shoot down as rapidly as it climbed. And more than anything it will hurt democracy’s cause or probably the Pakistani people will find new heroes. The search is already on.

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