“Forces of destabilization are as active today as they were earlier. They are anxiously waiting for the withdrawal of the US-led troops from Afghanistan next year. The new scenario that will emerge in Afghanistan can affect Pakistan in various ways”, says the author.
Most newspapers have preferred to highlight the fact that Nawaz Sharif is the first person in Pakistan to have become the democratically elected Prime Minister for a third time after a gap of 13 years. Thus, his success in capturing power is a historic development. In 1999 when his government was toppled in a military coup staged by the then Army Chief, Gen Pervez Musharraf, he had been written off as a politician with his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (N), struggling for survival.
He was jailed and could have been hanged to death. That was the time when the world saw in his wife, Kulsoom, a fearless fighter for her rights. She made it clear to the General that she was not the one who would accept the designs of the dictator to throw her husband into the dustbin of history. She succeeded in making the Saudi rulers intervene in a clandestine cooperation with the US. Nawaz Sharif was forced to go on exile to Saudi Arabia.
But the politician in him could not remain away from the hustle and bustle of politics forever. After all, he was destined to come back to power and change the course of politics in Pakistan. But this fact will be of no use to him as he begins his latest tenure at a time when most people in Pakistan are leading a miserable life because of daily power cuts for as long as 12 hours at some places. Pakistan during the PPP-led government somehow escaped having been declared a “failed state”.
Its economy needs a surgical treatment to make it deliver the goods. Extremism promoted by elements like the Taliban has caused incalculable damage to the Pakistan economy. It invited drone attacks by the US which may now become history, as Nawaz Sharif has declared after taking over as Prime Minister. But how he manages to control extremists remains to be seen. Interestingly, the man who unsuccessfully tried to destroy Nawaz Sharif’s political career, Gen Musharraf, is in the dock when the PML (N) leader is in power.
The world will be watching with interest whether Nawaz Sharif simply ignores him and allows the law to take its own course. He has no time to waste as people have great expectations from him. He was a successful business man before the PML (N) leader got inducted into politics during Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s rule. That is why Sharif’s approach has always been business-like. The privatization program with the setting up of the Privatization Commission of Pakistan began when he was at the helm of affairs.
It’s a different matter that it was alleged those days that when government-owned undertakings were put on sale, his Ittefaq Group of Industries would purchase them. Despite this, Pakistan made some significant achievements on the industrial front during his past two tenures. But today the situation is different. Forces of destabilization are as active today as they were earlier. They are anxiously waiting for the withdrawal of the US-led troops from Afghanistan next year.
The new scenario that will emerge in Afghanistan can affect Pakistan in various ways. But Pakistan can gain enormously by taking steps for the normalization of relations with India. Nawaz Sharif may face considerable pressure from businessmen to do all he can to increase business opportunities between India and Pakistan. Already the two countries are doing excellently on the bilateral trade front.
Exports from India to Pakistan went up by around 15 per cent in 2012-13, adding $1.6 billion to bilateral trade between April 2012 and February 2013. Imports from Pakistan too increased to $488 million from $375 million, a rise of as much as 30 per cent. The new Prime Minister of Pakistan has a great opportunity available to him to change the economic profile of his country by concentrating on the Indo-Pak trade front.