Under Shahbaz, democracy will weaken in Pakistan: Experts


I am sharing a Breaking News Report of  ANI released immediately after announcement of verdict of Pakistan Supreme Court for disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as MP, giving opinion of various experts. My comments about implications on India are part of the News details. The Report and my comments stands quoted by many media reports, the URLs of which are being attached below the ANI Report reproduced below.

Maj Gen S B Asthana, SM, VSM. Chief Instructor, USI of India,(On Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter,Goggle+ as Shashi Asthana)

New Delhi [India], July 28 (ANI): Democracy in Pakistan will weaken under new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, said experts on Friday.

Shahbaz was appointed Prime Minister on Friday after Pakistan’s Supreme Court delivered its verdict in Panamagate and disqualified Nawaz Sharif to remain Pakistan Prime Minister for acquiring illegal offshore assets and lying to the nation.

Nawaz appointed Shahbaz in an attempt to face the challenge and remain politically relevant.

But, experts and observers feel that Shahbaz’s appointment will weaken civilian rule in the nation.

One has to keep fingers crossed whether democracy survives in Pakistan or not.

Talking exclusively to ANI over phone, Harsh V. Pant- Distinguished Fellow and Head of Strategic Studies at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, and Professor of International Relations at King’s College, London- said, “The disqualification of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the nation’s Supreme Court will further weaken the democracy and the civilian government in Pakistan and will give another chance to the country’s Army to assert its power and control over the government.”

He said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had become weak ever since the Panamagate scandal surfaced.

“As the case progressed in the court, he became weaker by the day. He was not able to perform and tried to divert the people’s attention by escalating tensions on Indo-Pak border.”

Pant predicted that the apex court verdict against Sharif, his family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, will bring more turmoil to the country.

“There will be more turmoil in the country as the new PM Shahbaz Sharif is not a democratically elected one, but an appointed person and own brother of PM Nawaz Sharif. He doesn’t not have the people’s mandate. He is not coming to the office through a democratic political process. Thus, the new PM will not be a strong leader and will only be at the mercy of his political mentor as well as on the powerful Military leadership,” said Prof Pant.

On the possible impact of Indo-Pak relations, he said, “The event of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification was well anticipated and will not have any major impact on Indo-Pak relations as the Pakistani politicians, whether it’s the ruling class or the opposition, and the Military share the same anti India agenda. Kashmir is a rallying point for all of them with the Army as focal point. And, the Army had been dictating the India policy for quite some time already”.

It will also unlikely to have any impact on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, because Pakistan has already militarised it and Pak Army has already announced its intention to safeguard the Chinese interest in CPEC, he added.

Major General (Retired) Shashi Asthana, Chief Instructor, USI of India, and former Additional Director General of the Infantry, told ANI, “It is sensational news, but from an Indian point of view, it is of little significance.”

He also said that Sharif’s disqualification will not have any major impact on Indo-Pak relations, as Pakistan’s politicians, whether the ruling party or the opposition and the military share the same anti-India agenda.

“Irrespective of who is the Prime Minister of Pakistan, it is the Pakistan Army, which calls the shots and its aims and objectives don’t change with the personality of Prime Minister. The anti-India agenda is the rallying point for Pakistani politicians and for the army, and Kashmir is a focal point. This will not change,” Major General (retd.) Asthana said.

Major General (Retired) D.K.Mehta, another defence expert, said, “This is all an orchestration of the army which is controlling the judiciary also, and that’s why when the Pakistan Supreme Court appointed a JIT against Nawaz Sharif with regard to the Panama Gate scandal, they includedPakistan Army officers.”

He further said, “Although Pakistan is trying to showcase that its judiciary is transparent and independent, this is not reality. One of the judges had made a statement in the past that he was forced to resign by the military. Also, it may be recalled that the courts in Pakistan have not been able to convict former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf, who is facing several charges of murder, abduction, treason and conspiracy of toppling the civilian government. He has also been allowed to go out of the country by these same courts.”

Major General (Retired) Mehta further stated that the courts in Pakistan are under the strong influence of the military and have also not been able to do much about internationally declared terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and others.

He also said that there will be no impact on the progress of the CPEC, as Pakistan’s incumbent army chief Gen.Bajwa has already stated that the project is in the interest of the people of Pakistan.

While welcoming Pakistan Supreme Court‘s decision to disqualify country’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Panamagate corruption case, Dr. Satish Misra, Senior Journalist and Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, stressed that, “ Democracy in Pakistan faces a major challenge. In Pakistan, the democracy has never been given a fair chance to bloom or prosper as it has to operate under the shadow of the Armed Forces particularly that of the Army. The Army is an all powerful and an omnipotent institution.”

He further added that Paksitani Army is also corrupt and has been promoting terrorism.

“Surprisingly, the Suprme Court in the neighbouring country has never taken cognizance of link between the Army and terrorist outfits rather has taken a very lenient view giving these organisations benefit of doubt and offered relief. Judiciary is also not free of corruption in Pakistan.”

On Sharif’s decision to appoint his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif as the prime minister in his place, Dr. Misra said, “It is an attempt to face the challenge and remain politically relevant. One has to keep fingers crossed whether democracy survives in Pakistan.”

Qamar Agha, a defence expert, said, “I see a Pakistani military hand in this Panama Case government. Pakistani judiciary and military have very close ties.”

Nawaz Sharif has paid the price of being democratic in a military-dominant country, he added.
















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