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Why is Nawaz getting cold feet on Sindh?

By Karamatullah K. Ghori

There couldn’t be a more deserving case for the power barons of Islamabad to impose the governor’s rule on Sindh.
The imbecile Chief Minister of Sindh the doddering octogenarian, Qaim Ali Shah has been daring Islamabad to call his bluff with his provocative dragging of feet on the issue of renewing the Pakistan Rangers’ mandate to carry on their 18-month-old cleanup operation in Karachi.
At Qaim’s behest the Sindh Assembly, with its thumping PPP majority has been playing cat-and-mouse with the issue, mischievously filibustering and calculatedly thumbing their noses at Islamabad’s puffed-up power dispensers. But this brash petulance of Qaim and his minions is apparently not provocative enough for a stolid Nawaz Sharif, for it isn’t moving him, at all, or rubbing him on the wrong side.
As in so many other similar situations in the past, Nawaz has taken to the aerial route and just nonchalantly embarked on overseas jaunts, leaving his minions to scramble, scratch their heads in bewilderment and wonder why the boss is showing so much insensitivity that could only embolden the erring Sindh ruling elite into more indiscretion and misconduct.
I, for one, have never had any fancy notions about Nawaz being a man of any imagination or insight. The man is a sinecure and it could only be attributed to the misfortune or misdeeds of the people of Pakistan that a politician of his low caliber has been PM for a third time.
But even a man of his abysmal intelligence ought to understand the gravity of the situation unleashed by Sindh’s perennially incompetent and corrupt ruling thugs’ calculated affront to a force that has been working its butts out to tackle the monster of terrorism in Karachi.
It’s clear as daylight why and how a knee-jerk buffoon like Qaim Ali Shah has suddenly donned the mantle of a Superman and taken upon himself to defy the collective might of GHQ and Islamabad’s civilian cabal headed byNawaz on Sindh Nawaz. Qaim is no better than a puppet at the end of the string and is doing the bidding of his master, who fled the country months ago to ensconce himself in the haven of his Dubai hideout and call the shots in Sindh from the safety of that remote sanctuary.
Nawaz’ home honcho, the incorrigible Chaudhry Nisar, has got it right. He hit the bull’s eye, in his press conference of a few days ago, when he, calling a spade a spade, said it in so many words: the junkies in the PPP-studded Sindh establishment are challenging the Rangers, and the powers-that-be, only for the sake of one man. That one man, as every Pakistani is aware of, is none other than Asif Ali Zardari.
The corruption-incarnate Zardari has been feeling the heat of the Rangers’ anti-corruption drive from the day his principal factotum in the wholesale plunder and loot of Sindh, Dr Asim Hussain, was nabbed by them and brought within the reach of the arm of law of the land.
Zardari could never have imagined that denouement befalling his cohort and confidant. He could feel the noose tightening against him and decided to do what every beleaguered con artist would do in such a situation: hit back and take recourse to a last-ditch offence as your best defense.
Qaim Ali Shah and the whole corruption-infested PPP clap-trap in the Sindh Assembly are collectively beholden to Zardari for being in positions of power. He’s the ring master who has been whipping his minions around and using them as pawns in his elaborate and arcane game of robbing Sindh of its wealth in more ways than one. It should be obvious to Nawaz it certainly is obvious to Chaudhry Nisarthat Zardari is in his last ditch effort to keep the Rangers from reaching the inner sanctum of his fortress of corruption.
No wonder his minions have sprung to action to save their chief’s fortress from falling to the Rangers’ assault at its ramparts. Dr Asim Hussain was a prized asset to Zardari and with him in the clutches of Rangers and NAB, Zardari’s fortress is that close to being blown up to bits.
The Zardari circus is on its last legs; if the Rangers are given the green light to go about their mission as methodically as they have up to this point, Zardari’s tent could fold within months, if not weeks. The Zardari camp knows it, too, and, hence, has brought its guns out and blazing them as the last throw of their dice. Chaudhry Nisar has done his homework.
He has hinted at several options so many darts in his quiver at the disposal of the federal government if the Sindh government continues to misbehave or persists in its reluctance to sign on the dotted lines. In the ugly scenario triggered by Zardari’s thugs in Sindh, the imposition of Governor’s rule over the province seems like the most workable solution to overcome the impasse.
Such a move is fully warranted under the provision of Pakistan’s Constitution. It is not only a right of the federal government to enforce its will on an erring province but, in the ongoing typical situation in Sindh, more than an obligation too. Rangers have been deployed in Karachi under the anti-terrorism act of Pakistan. It is, in its letter-and-spirit a federal subject shared with the province.
However, as in this case, if the province concerned shows reluctance, or perceptible lack of will, to do its bit of work, the federal government will have every right to conduct the operation entirely on its own. Pundits keeping their focus over Sindh have long been of the view that the cleanup operation which was never intended to be confined to fighting terrorism alone but also included combating its twin scourge, Sindh’s rampant corruption should have been put under direct federal supervision and oversight.
The Zardari cabal ruling the roost in Sindh is part of the problem and should never have been co-opted as an adjunct to the party seeking a solution. It may have seemed like a good political gimmick for Nawaz to hawk Qaim Ali Shah’s credentials as ‘captain’ of the cleanup operation but it smacked of poor strategy. How could a Zardari factotum be trusted to work as an honest broker? It was an oxymoron; an obvious contradiction in terms.
But it begs the question why Nawaz is having cold feet in taking on Zardari? Why should a PM who has successfully thwarted the assault at his citadel from a populist and charismatic Imran Khan be so shy in confronting a person like Zardari?
The only logical explanation for Nawaz’ diffidence, dear Dr Watson (as Sherlock Holmes would’ve said) could be his fear of the same medicine being administered to him too. Nay-sayers have long been insinuating at an unwritten agreement between Zardari and Nawaz. Others say the London Plan worked out by Nawaz and Benazir Bhutto is still operational and alive. PPP and Nawaz League wouldn’t hold each other accountable; period.
But while both of them Nawaz ​& Zardar​i may still feel honor-bound by the spirit of that unholy alliance they know it so well that in the Pakistani calculus of power there’s a third force too. And that third force has power flowing from the barrel of its guns.
As Imran Khan said recently in Delhi for the benefit of his Indian interlocutors the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, is the most popular man in Pakistan and he is determined to rid the country of the twin scourge of terrorism and corruption.
So much as Nawaz may wish he didn’t have to bite the bullet on the Rangers’ mission in Karachi he may not have much choice to do otherwise. He would be a fool if he thought he could be on friendly terms with both the saint and the rogue.

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