Uncharacteristic of Asif Ali Zardari, his broadside against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fired this past Monday couldn’t be more lethal. Not only has he accused Nawaz Sharif of being ungrateful to the PPP for the help it rendered to the PML (N) to form the government following the otherwise questionable 2013 election, he has also accused him dividing the nation “to save their allies Taliban and the terrorists”.
He also alleged that the actions being taken by the federal agencies in Sindh are in “clear violation of the Constitution”. Demanding an end to the ‘politics of revenge’, Zardari has warned of “disastrous consequences” if it continued.
As to what those consequences can be, he did not identify, but it is clear to all and sundry why the PPP co-chairman is so worked up against Nawaz Sharif. Following the arrest of PPP leader of its Punjab chapter Qasim Zia, his very close friend and aide Dr Asim Hussain was arrested on the charge of terrorism, and then there were arrest warrants for Yousuf Raza Gilani and Makhdoom Amin Fahim for alleged corruption.
A score of provincial bureaucrats of Sindh government have been arrested on charges of corruption, too. According to Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, there is an ‘evil nexus’ between corruption and terrorism; and that has to be broken. But to Zardari’s great annoyance, Nawaz Sharif remains passive to these developments.
And is it that Zardari too is feeling the heat? One would only venture that only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. But unlike the recent past, the PPP co-chairman would not blame the army for these arrests – “we salute our jawans who gave ultimate sacrifice in this war against terrorism” and that it is Nawaz Sharif “who is targeting PPP and other political opponents when innocent citizens are being killed by enemy bombing on border villages”.
Zardari also wants to know if hauling up the tainted politicians was such a sacred mission why then the PML (N) leaders guilty of similar crimes have been left untouched. That is, of course, a legitimate question that rankles not only the PPP but also others, given the fact that the present finance minister, Ishaq Dar, has reportedly confessed involvement in a money-laundering case and there is a video film purportedly showing Mashood Rana accepting bribe money.
But the PPP co-chairman is, proverbially, barking up the wrong tree. It is not Nawaz Sharif but the law-enforcing agencies, duly empowered under the National Action Plan, who are conducting these raids and taking this action.
If it is the PPP leaders who are being targeted today, may be tomorrow it would be the PML-N’s turn, as it too has in its fold quite a few leaders who are accused of committing corruption.
And if it is Asif Ali Zardari’s thinking that by raising pressure on Nawaz Sharif he can freeze this action he may like to think again. A retired general and now a federal minister, Abdul Qadir Baloch, says there is going to be no turning back from recent anti-corruption cases against Dr Asim Hussain and others. Nawaz Sharif as such is in no position whatsoever to reverse the situation.
Action under the National Action Plan by the concerned agencies with the help of Rangers and police is what had been agreed to by the country’s top political leadership across the board. Of great interest to the political leadership should be a joint effort to obtain a corruption-free, truly democratic polity in Pakistan.
Rightly then it would be in the larger interest of all parties to ensure their ranks are cleansed of the corrupt elements; and more essentially, if this corruption happens to be bank-rolling terrorism and extremism and thus undermining national security – as seems to be the case at present.