Nawaz Sharif, the chief of his own faction of Pakistan Muslim League, is touring Turkey, apparently to sympathise with the Turkish leaders over the devastation caused by Sunday’s massive earthquake in the country. But the underlying objective, sources said, is to learn from the Turkish leaders the art of reining in the powerful military.
The PML-N is planning to increase the momentum of its street agitation in order to topple the government of its rival Pakistan Peoples Party whom it blames for the political and economic mess in the country. But the party also fears that the security establishment might exploit the ensuing political instability for an “unconstitutional political change” in the country.
“Sharif travelled to Ankara at the invitation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul,” said his Political Secretary Dr Asif Kermani. Sharif’s engagements include meetings with Turkey’s former president Suleman Demril, top politicians, businessmen, scholars and intellectuals.
“The PML-N has, in principle, decided to oust the PPP-led coalition government through street agitation before the Senate elections scheduled for next year,” a source told The Express Tribune. “But the party has received credible information that the security establishment could use the situation for an unconstitutional political change in the country.”
Sharif discussed his predicament with the Turkish premier, who, it is claimed, immediately called him to Ankara for counselling.
Premier Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, which has been in power since 2002, has successfully tamed the country’s powerful military that had periodically carried out coups d’état since the 1960s.
According to sources, a think tank of Sharif’s party studied the pros and cons and suggested the party chief to travel to Turkey to learn the art from Erdogan’s party. Sharif, after studying the Turkish strategy during his seven-day trip, would return to Pakistan and visit Faisalabad on November 4 to lead a public rally.
Sources said that it is Faisalabad where Sharif will lay bare his plan for mass anti-government movement.
Ahsan Iqbal, one of the most vocal PML-N politicians, tried to downplay Sharif’s trip. “Mian Sahab has travelled to Turkey to study their system, especially their economic progress,” Iqbal told The Express Tribune. But in the same breath he added, “In an economically prosperous Pakistan, the military will never dare to intervene in civilian affairs.”
When asked would there be a threat of military takeover during the PML-N’s street agitation, Iqbal said his party would resist any such unconstitutional step.
In a press release, the PML-N said that Sharif met with Premier Erdogan and President Gul in Ankara on Wednesday. He sympathised with the Turkish leaders over the devastation caused by the deadly earthquake. He said that Pakistan and Turkey are bound together in strong ties of friendship and have always shared each other’s joys and sorrows.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2011.