Nawaz Sharif has shocked the nation by turning an about-face on constitutional reforms, pulling the rug out from under the democratization package just as it was about to pass. This sudden change of position has caused many in Pakistan to question the motives of the PML-N leader, with some suggesting that Nawaz Sharif and other elements are intentionally trying to derail the democratization process.
Prior to yesterday’s announcement, PML-N had submitted no dissenting notes about the proposed reforms, so the announcement came as a shock to the nation, and sets Nawaz and his party off as the only opponents to turning back the anti-democratic power grabs made by Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf.
The abrupt U-turn by the PML-N drew harsh criticism from all political sides.
ANP leader Ilyas Bilour said the PML-N would come out as “lone loser in the present crisis”. He said that two days ago Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N himself called on ANP chief Asfandyar Wali and gave him a choice to select one name from Pakhtoonkhwa-Abaseen and Pakhtoonkhwa Khyber to which Mr Wali had given him a free-hand.
Nawaz Sharif’s announcement has drawn harsh criticism across political parties as PML-Q leader Kamil Ali Agha accused Sharif of a “lack of vision.”
The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has also blasted Sharif , saying it was expecting the former Prime Minister to backtrack.
“When there is lack of vision among the leadership of a party than such U-turns and decisions could be expected,” senior PML-Q leader Kamil Ali Agha said.
Agha said the delay in presenting the package would waste the time of the public and will lead the country towards a new political and constitutional crisis.
But it is not only other political parties that are upset. Even members of Nawaz’s own political party are speaking against him.
The sudden change on Sharif’s stance has even confused many PML-N leaders, and insiders within the party said this sudden move took many within the party by surprise since all issues apart from the renaming of the NWFP had been settled by the reforms committee amicably.
All of this raises the important question of what is behind this sudden about-face by the PML-N leader?
According to the ANI article quoted above, Nawaz had received some private phone calls from un-named sources giving him direction.
Sources said Sharif’s change of stance was at the behest of some quarters, and the PML-N chief adhered to “some phone calls” he received just before his press conference.
Some political insiders in Islamabad are speculating that Nawaz Sharif and certain elements are trying to derail the democratization process in order to keep the Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf changes to the constitution until they can once again gain power for themselves.
The nation is on the verge of historic democratic reforms, and they are now being held up by one man. Nawaz Sharif owes the people of Pakistan an explanation. The reasons he has given so far simply do not pass the test of reality.