Thank god for Nawaz Sharif

Published: May 23, 2011

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha.

Thank God, we have a person like Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan. He gives a glimmer of hope that the nation may one day assert itself to have the elected representatives control the armed forces. 

Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister of Pakistan, said at a press conference in Karachi that the formulation of his country’s policies should be the prerogative of the elected government instead of the military and the intelligence agencies. He was only pointing out the basic tenets of democracy. We — as many as 12 from different walks of life — while travelling through Pakistan last month, could see how sick the people were of a rule where they had no say and where the military and intelligence agencies had the last word.

The nation’s anger is justified when such a goof-up takes place: None of those who claim to be the custodians knew that Osama bin Laden was living in the heart of Pakistan. And when the 40-minute long operation of killing him takes place, neither the military nor the intelligence agencies knew about it. In fact, this was the time President Zardari’s government should have put the military on the mat. Instead, the ruling elements arranged to have a unanimous resolution passed by the National Assembly and the Senate to stand behind the military. By condoning the criminal negligence, the two houses of parliament do not in any way help those who should have been held accountable in the military and intelligence agencies.

Once again, the rhetoric against India may have simplified the situation but no effort seems to have been made to ascertain the underlying causes of the malady. Nawaz Sharif is quite right that “Pakistan must stop treating India as its biggest enemy”. The India bogey is a dead horse which has been whipped again and again.

True, Pakistan’s army chief is India-centric and makes no bones about it. But even he has not opposed the talks which are currently taking place between India and Pakistan. Probably, he, too, realises that the common man in Pakistan wants to live in peace with India and take advantage of its economic development through trade and other new mutual transactions.

I thought when the late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif signed the Charter of Democracy, they had given a joint undertaking to build tomorrow’s Pakistan, which would have the military only for defence and not to dictate or thwart the rule by the people. When I reminded Nawaz Sharif of the charter during my visit to Lahore, he said that he stood by every word of it but felt helpless because President Zardari was dependent on the military. I wish I could have asked Zardari to make Benazir’s dream come true. But he is so anxious to stay in power that he has no time to recall what the Charter says, much less implement it. Yet, there was a time when Zardari was keen on friendship with India. Why and how he lost the way is beyond me.

I hope that the talks between New Delhi and Islamabad are successful and the solution of one problem leads to the solution of others. Both must realise that there is no alternative to peace. However, both must also respect each others sensibilities. India is not worried about whether ISI chief Lt-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha visits the country or not. But it is indeed concerned over the ‘involvement’ of the ISI in the 26/11 attacks by terrorists on Mumbai. Pakistan, too, may have something against India on Balochistan. That, too, should be discussed.

I find Prime Minister Manmohan Singh totally committed to having good relations with Pakistan. His visit to Pakistan later in the year may assure the country that he would walk an extra mile to bury the hatchet. Both President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have their compulsions. But if they were to make a joint front with Nawaz Sharif on detente with India, they may succeed.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Atif
    May 24, 2011 - 12:22AM

    Very well written, Kuldip Nayar in his full form, and like always thought provoking, like the idea both Pakistan and India should ponderRecommend

  • khokhar
    May 24, 2011 - 12:54AM

    Thank you sir for writing this. The situation in Pakistan sometimes brings me to tears. How I wish we can get rid of the generals and their anti-India mindset. I do not trust Nawaz with his record of corruption and false promises, none the less in this bleak situation I am heartened to see that he has raised a voice of sanity. Recommend

  • Sanjoy Das
    May 24, 2011 - 12:56AM

    It is high time that Pakistan come to term with the reality that its real enemy is within. Undoubtedly India has committed atrocities in Kashmir, and still does so. But it’ll stop when militancy ceases. Not that long ago, Pakistan’s stance was legitimate. Unfortunately, Pakistan then made a pact with the devil. In nurturing Islamic extremists to fight a proxy war against India, and in making a huge mess of Afghanistan, just to gain strategic depth, is stretching things too much. Pakistan’s action is at least as bad as India’s if not worse.

    Let’s face it: The boundaries of nuclear powers are permanent ones The only solution to Kashmir is to formalize the de facto LOC as the de jure international boundary – albeit as a soft one (just as Tibet and Xinjiang will remain within China).

    Pakistan should shed its obsession about India. With an economy that is 7 times bigger and expanding at a remarkable rate, India can well afford a credible nuclear deterrent and a formidable military. It not only has a large economy but also a significant research establishment to support its military heft. Although not a world power yet, India is on its way to become one. India’s volume of trade even with remote Africa is several times more that Pakistan’s trade with China. India helps keep the Indian ocean safe from piracy. It is a part of an international consortium for fusion energy research. It is a member of the G-20 and BRICS and sooner than later join the UNSC as a permanent member. India is a net donor of global economic aid while Pakistan is not only a net recipient of such aid but also critically dependent on it. Right or wrong, India’s growing clout will only fetch it more global sympathy, while further alienating Pakistan.

    Kudos to Nawaz Sharif for making such a statement. Yes, Pakistan should put its house in order first. It should root out the religious fundamentalists as well as their closet ISI sympathizers. I hope that Pakistan becomes a stable, secular, progressive nation. Peace is in the best interest of Pakistan, India, the other south Asian nations and even the entire world.

    The next war between India and Pakistan should be fought in the stock market, not the battlefield.Recommend

  • Blunt!
    May 24, 2011 - 1:23AM

    Go read about the latest David Headley confession! Recommend

  • K9
    May 24, 2011 - 1:30AM

    karz utaro mulk sawaro… yellow cab… i could go on.. no wonder India wants him as our leader..
    I think shiv sena should be India’s leader! Recommend

  • faraz
    May 24, 2011 - 1:47AM

    Last time the army launched Kargil operation followed by a coup, this time they are building a right wing political alliance to neutralize Nawaz. Recommend

  • anonymous
    May 24, 2011 - 1:54AM

    nawaz sharif is a con manRecommend

  • meekal ahmed
    May 24, 2011 - 1:59AM

    Why does NS only speak a fair amount of sense when he is out of power?Recommend

  • Vicram Singh
    May 24, 2011 - 2:13AM

    “His visit to Pakistan later in the year may assure the country that he would walk an extra mile to bury the hatchet.”

    Kuldipji, Pakistan needs to bury the hatchet, not India. Get your thought processes straight. Recommend

  • adnan
    May 24, 2011 - 3:47AM

    and u think nawaz sharif is speaking in favour of india and against the army… but NUMB on the rekigious intolerant people and militants…. and we think this will bring peaceRecommend

  • May 24, 2011 - 5:54AM

    Although Nawaz Sharif is calling for a democratic and politically strong Pakistan, no other political party is supporting him. Pro-military PML-Q, MQM and PPP have bashed his press conference. I am afraid he will be soon left alone and will have to reconcile with the establishment once again. We need more and more thinkers like Kuldeep Nayar on both sides of the order. May peace prevail in the subcontinent.Recommend

  • kanishka
    May 24, 2011 - 6:00AM

    Does the common man of India have a say in the matters of Governance???

    No

    teh democratically elected governments of India are even worse than Military of Pakistan…Atleast the Military of Pakistan is Patriotic, the politicians of India can sell India for anything…

    So Kudlip saab please first clean your country before lecturing Pakistan..Recommend

  • Irshad Jan
    May 24, 2011 - 10:56AM

    If India is sincere it must show magnanimity at this critical juncture. Issues like Sir Creek & Siachen were almost solved. India should take the lead to sign agreement on these issues which will pave way for other matters. People like Kuldip should start a campaign in India for it. It will eventually put pressure on our ” establishment ” to move ahead.Recommend

  • Fahad Shaikh
    May 24, 2011 - 11:27AM

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/174872/wikileaks-zardari-nawaz-had-agreed-not-to-restore-iftikhar-chaudhry/

    President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif had agreed not to restore Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2008, according to a latest cable released by wikileaksRecommend

  • Nadeem ahmad
    May 24, 2011 - 12:44PM

    Kuldip jee,We apprecate You been long time supporter of indo-pak reconciliation.what Nawaz sharif said in his press conference was also right principally and what his stand publically on the issues of parliament dominance is true.But words should matche actions latter.

    NS needs to come with his clear and courageous stance on the issue of terrorism,if he wants to be a leader not a politician.He should be more worried that how people will remember him,his Legacy.

    India too have not missed any opportunity to defame and hurt pakistan.Instead of showing willingness to help pakistan in this trying time,it is also following the policy of vandetta.What are these numerous consulate doing on pak-afghan borders?Recommend

  • Pakistani
    May 24, 2011 - 5:43PM

    I think both Pakistanis and Indian should bury the hatchet and start living like France and Germany, USA and Canada. As we have been extremely insensitive about our impoverished majority. On both sides of the borders the military establishment is minting money by creating hatred against each other. If they made hundreds of million in Pakistan by selling plots in DHA and purchasing Submarines from France… their counterparts in India embezzeled billions in Bofors scandal.

    Its time to bury the hatchet and think about your ownself, the war mongers never wants both the nations to live in peace and harmony so that their bank accounts multiply at the cost of poor Pakistanis and Indians.Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    May 24, 2011 - 7:25PM

    @meekal ahmed:

    This means he must BE KEPT out of power —- otherwise he’ll go berserk?Recommend

  • Sheheryar Khan
    May 24, 2011 - 7:30PM

    Thanks Kuldip sb for writing an unbiased and thought-provoking piece.Recommend

  • Butt
    May 24, 2011 - 7:49PM

    Kuldip – No we do not need hypocrites anymore. Pak Army Zindabad.Recommend

  • Zia
    May 24, 2011 - 10:44PM

    Ha! What a joke!Recommend

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