Nawaz Sharif’s surgery

Published: June 10, 2016
The writer is an Islamabad-based TV journalist and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

The writer is an Islamabad-based TV journalist and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

Call me old-fashioned but I do not believe in attacking a foe who is under the weather. And I avoid analysing a situation where a political leader is ill or has endured a personal tragedy. You do not want to come out as an immature and insensitive know-it-all. The only message that needs to go out is the one of solidarity, of compassion, of empathy. And indeed that is exactly what I did when Pervez Musharraf was attacked and when Imran Khan fell and injured himself. Even during Mr Khan’s recent divorce, I was aggressively arguing against discussing private matters. And when Benazir Bhutto was attacked and then killed I lost all composure. It is not about strategy. Only good old decency.

And that is precisely how I behaved when Nawaz Sharif, the country’s premier, went through a heart surgery. It is my belief that given the complicated living standards in Pakistan, our lifestyles and our dietary habits anyone can fall ill any time. You need to have a balance of goodwill when your time comes. But if that is what you are to do, you need to know how to master your emotions. If for instance you want to show compassion to someone you deride, you will obviously have to control revulsion. But this simple fact of life is lost on some of the best and the brightest. Many displayed terrible bedside manners during the premier’s treatment abroad. Let’s see how. At first it was claimed that the prime minister was in the UK to meet and plot with Asif Ali Zardari. It was a conspiracy against the country. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Office kept shouting at the top of its voice that it was a visit meant for medical treatment. But when it became clear that the man would have to go through a heart surgery critics changed tack. What a shame it was that the country’s premier had to seek medical treatment abroad. He has been in power for decades. Why didn’t he build state-of-the-art facilities at home, we were asked. Wait what? Ruled this country for decades? Last I checked the man was never allowed to complete his terms in office. His previous term in office was cut short by a coup after which he was sent into exile for almost a decade. During that exile he tried to return to the country but was deported from the airport. Nobody but his own party protested back then. And pray where was he advised to go for treatment? London. Where is he right now? London.

When you have spent considerable time in the care of a particular team of doctors, is it impossible to think that he would feel comfortable being treated by the same set of experts? Hey you sent him there. But the story doesn’t end here. As Nawaz Sharif was being admitted to the clinic, former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry came out to address the media and told us how the prime minister’s surgery endangered the country. Something about a nuclear button that the civilians are supposed to push, at least in his mind, in the event of a nuclear war. Awesome. Was this man for real? In a shocking moment of comprehension, watching the former CJ’s interview, that was quickly pulled ostensibly to avoid further embarrassment, it dawned on me that he knew almost as much about the law of the land as he did about our civil-military realities and our mundane history. His press talk was a godsend for the prime minister’s detractors. Now they were complaining about the country drifting out of control. Was the prime minister even capable of ruling this country? Without a prime minister the country must go to dogs. And that’s what happened. In a matter of few days there is chaos on the streets, no food or water, no electricity and arson and looting has burnt the country down. Right? Wrong! Then someone had an epiphany. This strategy was not working either. After remaining in denial about a sympathy wave for the prime minister, these geniuses decided that the best way to attack him was to plunge headlong into denial. Surgery? What surgery? This obviously was a ruse by the prime minister to deflect criticism (yeah like that is ever going to happen).

I must say that I like the man and not for the reasons you would think. Since he returned from exile, I don’t recall him using any abusive language personally. And with the detractors like the ones listed above, who needs a publicist? So get well soon Mr Prime Minister and get back as soon as possible. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2016.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (13)

  • sabi
    Jun 11, 2016 - 1:11AM

    Press and nation rise and fall together.
    Dirty people will be discarded by none but by power of pen.
    Excellent article kudos.Recommend

  • Paul
    Jun 11, 2016 - 1:13AM

    Wot, Pitafi? Did I die and go to heaven or do I sense a PML(N) jiyala?

    I wonder now, can’t you be similarly logical when it comes to my own country India?Recommend

  • Zaheer Ali
    Jun 11, 2016 - 2:55AM

    Pakistan needs PM Sharif to complete his term. Someone has taken Pakistan’s woes seriously. Though load shedding exists today but at least we know that work on multiple power Coal, LNG, Wind and Solar Power. Recommend

  • Kaku
    Jun 11, 2016 - 3:31AM

    Isn’t it worth mentioning that this journalist works for the state media, ie PTV. “call me old fashioned” but I think that’s an important piece of information that should have been stated at the end. Recommend

  • Gramscian
    Jun 11, 2016 - 4:04AM

    ‘I don’t recall him using any abusive language personally’.

    That’s because he has an army of staff to do it on his behalf, has always had it.

    In any event, hope he gets well soon & is held accountable for plundering national wealth i.e Panama Papers.Recommend

  • Humza
    Jun 11, 2016 - 7:39AM

    @Gramscian: The problem with our people is everyone thinks they are judge and jury. Unless we can understand due process and procedure, Pakistanis will never progress.and will descend to the level of the Arab states where there is anarchy and lawlessness like Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen. When an industrialist’s kids have flats or millions in legal off shore accounts, where is there proof of wrong doing. For as long as I can remember people say Nawaz Sharif is a billionaire but I didn’t think much of his kids having 9 1- 10 million in an overseas tax haven. Why do think UK premier Cameron has not stepped down despite involvement in Panama letters. No one has proved anything illegal has happened which is why Imran Khan owned up to his off shore account. Can you prove the money there was sourced illegally? Either the world makes off shore accounts illegal for everyone or we learn to accept that there are always tax loopholes. When Starbucks UK pays no tax on 1 billion in profits, we all understand that the system is not fair. Thinl about changing laws in parliament if these issues bother you but don’t point fingers without proof. By the way, Pakistan is more stable and secure as well as progressing now than it has at any time in recent memory.Recommend

  • Azzy
    Jun 11, 2016 - 10:20AM

    Mr Pitafi raises Conspiracy Theory to new and utterly dizzying heights.Recommend

  • Azzy
    Jun 11, 2016 - 10:30AM

    As usual, if you have nothing to refute an argument you can attack the person.Recommend

  • Jun 11, 2016 - 1:08PM

    When IK whole world saw it not just a Twitter report,doctors told us the skull,ribs & vertebral fractures he had,stayed in hospital many days and many weeks home rest and still in a jacket for many more weeks,Msharraf was shown doing heavy exercise in gym in Dubai,Nawaz had some procedure in Harley Street,any news bulletin by hospital or Surgeon,no all we got was Twitter information by loving daughter who seems to have overcome her grief for ailing father judging from photos ops with foreign diplomats.The fresh face Nawaz came out with six days after Cardiac Bypass no bruises in neck,confidant walk doesn’t show he had anything major,imagine a guy going for urgent Bypass doing jalsa said just before the procedureRecommend

  • Wasim
    Jun 11, 2016 - 2:19PM

    “Why didn’t he build state-of-the-art facilities at home, we were asked. Wait what? Ruled this country for decades? Last I checked the man was never allowed to complete his terms in office.”

    So you are saying he couldn’t build a hospital ONLY because he couldn’t complete his term? Sounds bizarre because he did manage to build the motorway in his last tenure and a metro bus in last 3 years, plus I don’t see him building a hospital in the remaining two years. It’s all about priorities!Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jun 11, 2016 - 3:07PM

    Not just get well and get back, please get working.Recommend

  • Ishrat Salim
    Jun 11, 2016 - 4:32PM

    Mr pitafi. There is something called morality. He lied during the dharna in the parliament session where he passed the buck on the shoulder of the Army to approach PTI for reconciliation which was denied by ISPR the next day. What face did he have then ? He again lied in the parliament during Panama scandal wherein he said that he bought the flats in 2005 which in fact was 1995. Property papers duly registered by UK govt have been shown on TV. Beside, hordes of proofs have been shown on tv. So, he has been exposed again for his lies. Hence, does he has the moral value to continue as PM ? As a compassionate person he may be sick but pray that he gets well soon to face Allah’s wrath for the lies and deceit in this world for all to see. Recommend

  • Kaka Khan
    Jun 11, 2016 - 10:14PM

    @ Auther: YOU KNOW WHAT

    Imran Khan built a superior cancel hospital without holding any government position. So please do not fool us with “NS was removed three times from PM post”

    NS is the richest man in Pakistan even if he is not holding any office. Do not forget NS increased from one factory to 27 factories during his govt office. How did that happen??

    Sorry but you have a lame and deceiving argument for your corrupt leader.Recommend

More in Pakistan