Really, Shahbaz Sharif?

March, 2010

A few days ago, the chief minister of the Punjab province came into the limelight, for a strange, ill-advised commentary on the Taliban’s recent attacks in Lahore (see Dawn’s unusually strong-worded editorial about it here).

Sharif was also chief minister, Pubjab in 1999 when his brother, then PM Nawaz Sharif, was ousted by Parvez Musharraf during a bloodless military coup. The Sharif brothers were briefly imprisoned, and then exiled to Saudi Arabia, which lobbied to the Pakistani army for their release given its longtime cordial relations with the Sharif family. They eventually moved to London from where they re-entered Pakistani politics (Pakistani politicians have a history of holding political court from overseas).

Now, Musharraf is gone, and the Sharifs are back in power–sort of. While Shahbaz, once again, holds the coveted post of chief minister of the most powerful province in the country, his brother is continuing to dream of reclaiming the ‘throne’ he once occupied. BB’s assassination and the subsequent rise of PPP to power have put that one on hold for now.

So anyway, here’s the riveting piece of wisdom Shahbaz Sharif delivered at a gathering in Lahore, following the March 12 bomb blasts:

“General Musharraf planned a bloodbath of innocent Muslims at the behest of others only to prolong his rule, but we in the PML-N opposed his policies and rejected dictation from abroad, and if the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause then they should not carry out acts of terror in (PML-ruled) Punjab.”

One would think that at this crucial time in the country’s history, with the ongoing battle with the poisonous Taliban, and given how long he’s been in politics, he’d have mastered the art of thinking before he speaks. It’s hard to imagine he could actually think this speech Wouldn’t be misconstrued by Pakistanis being slaughtered across the country by the Taliban. In a country already torn by enough ethnic hatred, comes this man stating why the Taliban shouldn’t be carrying out acts of terrorism in his province (not Pakistan, but just the province he’s ruling right now because his ass is on the line). Why? Because his party hated Musharraf just as much as they do.

Does any Pakistani really believe if Musharraf hadn’t taken ‘dictation’ from the US post 9/11, Pakistan would have survived the explosion of American fury in Afghanistan and Iraq? Despite being the training ground for Al-Qaeda? I’m no fan of military rules and Musharraf may have made many other colossal mistakes in his decade-long tenure, but that wasn’t one of them.

Shahbaz Sharif is a massive idiot. And unfortunately for Pakistanis in Punjab and elsewhere, he’s an idiot still in charge.

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