From monarchs to jailbirds

Published: July 22, 2018
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Deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 
PHOTO: FILE

Deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

Deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 
PHOTO: FILE The writer is a US-based journalist with over 30 years of experience

Donald Trump has a 24 karat solid gold toilet in his Trump Towers penthouse luxury pad in Manhattan. The man needs a golden pot to answer the call of nature. Perhaps he’s had one made for himself in the White House. After all, when in power, these people don’t behave as ‘servants of the people’ but as monarchs. Imagine if he was convicted of supposedly being a Russian agent, as many in America suspect after his Helsinki love fest with Putin, he’d be thrown in jail. He’d be doubling up with pain from lack of bowel movement for days as he’d miss his golden toilet.

Let’s move to Adiala’s latest inmate, Nawaz Sharif. The man has acted like a monarch, shamelessly assigning absolute supremacy to himself as a three-term prime minister. If we were to go back in history to record all the corrupt deeds he committed, we’d have a nice big fat book. But most Pakistanis, even some media powerhouses, suffer from amnesia and don’t like revisiting Nawaz Sharif’s misdeeds. Just to give one small example: which leader is best known for introducing lifafa journalism? Answer: Nawaz Sharif and his the-then information minister. Who stormed the Supreme Court where the chief justice of Pakistan had to take cover when he came under attack? Sharif’s henchmen. They wanted to hurt the chief justice because they didn’t like his ruling against their prime minister. No one was hauled up for this crime — starting from the prime minister to his fellow-conspirators.

A friend sent me a news item from the UK-based online Daily Mail calling Nawaz Sharif and his family “penthouse pirates”. The report adds: “How the mega-rich former prime minister of Pakistan and his sons have ploughed millions into London’s swankiest addresses to amass a vast property empire.” Nawaz Sharif and daughter spent their pre-jail period in the 7 million pound Avenfield House, located in Park Lane with gorgeous views of London’s Hyde Park. You have to see the beautiful photos of the opulent rooms to believe the luxury the Sharif clan enjoys. Boom, then to land in Islamabad and be thrown in their sparse jail cells in Adiala must give indescribable discomfort to the former monarch and his daughter. To get a mattress instead of a bed; to get a fan instead of an air conditioner, to have a dirty toilet instead of regal toilet must hurt the former monarch’s comfort zone.

The eldest son, Hussain Nawaz, current resident of Avenfield House cooling his heels in London’s plush environs, tweeted, “I am told that my father was not given a bed to sleep on and the bathroom was extremely dirty, probably not cleaned for ages. There’s no precedent of treating people’s representatives with dignity in this country, but these are some basic rights denial of which constitutes torture.”

The 1965 war hero and winner of Sitara-e-Jurrat, our ace pilot Sajad Haider throws out leading questions for the public: He asks as to how many times did you “raise your voice” against Nawaz Sharif when he held public office and used PIA planes for fetching his meals? Did you “raise your voice” when he let the PIA plane wait overnight just because he missed one famous restaurant in Turkey? Did you “raise your voice” when he took a chartered PIA plane to London to go for treatment and kept it parked in London for one month while getting treatment? Did you “raise your voice” when you found him involved in mega corruption cases.

Let the prisoner in solitary confinement answer the above questions. He’s enough time to think.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2018.

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