Richard Nixon’s book “leaders” is a stunner; the book expounds upon the men that changed the world. Probably, all those leaders on whom Nixon dwelt were men with immaculate traits. One hallmark which was common in almost all was their ability to speak with authority. Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle and Douglas MacArthur spoke with such panache that all were awe-inspired. Forget about the likes of Churchill or Yoshida for that matter; let us talk about the man at the helm in Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. For the sake of simplicity, the piece will not even try to compare Sharif’s oratory prowess with that of the above-mentioned leaders, but will instead shed-light on his much-awaited speech to the nation, especially his “strategy” as regards power crisis and terrorism.
The man in question took over the coveted crown of premiership for the third time in June this year. This was possible because his party overpowered not only the PPP but also PTI, led by cricket legend, Imran Khan Niazi. A lot has happened since then: the spate of terrorism has gained momentum; the menace of load shedding is seemingly not near its end. The nation was waiting for the veteran’s speech. Finally, the ice has been broken now. For us to analyze his speech, there is a need to find out his oft-repeated sentences and/or claims that he made in pressers and interviews. His speeches and interviews always had extensive references of the Kargil conflagration and Vajpayee’s highly -touted bus journey to Lahore. Thankfully and much to my delight he eschewed or probably forgot to allude to these incidents.
Sharif started-off by needlessly reminding us that he was elected PM in June this year, but much to his credit admitted that lambasting from outside is easier than facing the bullets in the battlefield. Yes PM, governance is not a dime a dozen!
“On the one hand, terrorism threatens our nation. On the other, load shedding has destroyed us. Negligence of past is to blame.” One cannot disagree with Sharif over this statement, but don’t we all know that these issues have marred the progress of our country? What was the need to rue on the blemishes made by previous regimes? Those who voted-out the Pakistan People’s Party knew that these issues existed and that they were not resolved. The voters wanted panaceas for these issues, not a diagnosis of the problem. As the English idiom goes that there is no use crying over spilt milk, Sharif should have hit the bull directly by giving plausible solutions, which he did but not before flaying the previous governments. Announcements as regards the completion of Nandipur and Neelum-Jhelum projects were good additions in his speech, for they were solutions and political point scoring. His resolve to inaugurate electricity projects in Gaddani was another conspicuous part of his speech, which had little interest for the public. Let us not get into the merits and demerits of these projects, but one thing that is evident from the speech that Sharif was talking gingerly on the issue. He looked unsure as to when his “team” will alleviate the grave and ever-brewing power crisis. This part of his address should not make us upbeat at all!
Now, let us analyze his thoughts on counter-terrorism. He , like any other Pakistani said that his heart goes out for the people who have lost their lives owing to brazen attacks by terrorists. Neither he was daring enough to name death squads like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi(LEJ ) and others, nor he delved on a broad strategy to put an end to this epidemic. One can understand that tactical matters are not delved-upon in these addresses, but a policy is delineated. He vowed to end terrorism by talks or by coercion shows that talks will be the mainstay of his government’s CT policy. Negotiations require an assortment of tactics, wherein you show the other party your strength. Mahinda Rajapakhsay famously said that “I will negotiate with Tamils, but not Tamil Tigers”. It is not hard to figure out the importance of being in a strong position during any kind of negotiations. There is hardly anything to talk about with those recalcitrant beasts who take pride in killing 50,000 Pakistanis. The talks will inkle towards a victory for the TTP, for talks tantamount to a failure to uproot non-state-actors. Army officers at the Staff College and the National Defense University are bombarded with sayings that “never reinforce a failure”. Dialogues, be it in Shakai , Bajaur or Swat failed to deliver the goods. The very areas were cleared by military operations. But operation is not the only panacea; military action is a just a part of a comprehensive CT strategy , something which the incumbent government has not devised as of now. “We can’t let Karachi fall to terrorists.” Agreed; we must not allow but how will the government impede the terrorists, if I may ask Mr Sharif?
I am glad that you showed cognizance and concerns as regards Balochistan, but many like me must have been left in a huff, for you gave no direction as to how Balochis would be mollified and BLA would be pummeled or cut to size?
In sum, Nawaz Sharif’s speech leaves a lot to be desired for. The speech accentuated on problems rather those much-needed solutions. If he actually wanted to enumerate the impediments to us becoming the Asian Tigers then certainly the target killings of shias and Ahmedis; India’s nefarious activities, both on the borders and inside the country also merited his attention.
I don’t mince my words and would therefore vociferously and unequivocally say that this speech has left me in a huff.