↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Can we really trust Nawaz Sharif? - Back Pak by Nicholas Schmidle

Sharif's political beginnings were rather ignominious. He rose to power during the 1980s as a protege of General Zia ul Haq, the military dictator who overthrew and later hanged Benazir Bhutto's father in the late 1970s. Sharif, whose family's influence grew out of its significant industrial holdings, ran an iron foundry until 1983, when he became finance minister, and later chief minister, of Punjab. He was elected prime minister in 1990, and, during his two terms (which were interrupted by Bhutto's second prime ministership), managed to alienate the United States, which had been a cold war ally. In May 1998, he tested a nuclear weapon (ignoring pleas from the Clinton White House). Shortly after that, he tried to impose sharia law nationwide, drawing sharp condemnation from women and religious minorities. "We made a nuclear explosion in May," said Sharif, who nearly provoked a war with India a year later. "Now we will make another social explosion with this bill." Sharif was toppled in the October 1999 coup that brought Musharraf to power. A year later, he and his family went into exile in Saudi Arabia. He spent the next seven years shuttling between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, scheming a way to return to office--and his home.

Sharif, a bulbous man who left Pakistan bald and returned with hair plugs, has lately tried to refashion more than just his look; he has tried to sell himself as a liberal democrat. Throughout the spring of 2007, he unambiguously opposed Musharraf and championed Chaudhry's cause more vigorously than any other politician. Both positions earned him the respect of lawyers, university students, and, yes, many Islamists from the mainstream parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami. Faced with such opposition, Zardari relented and agreed to reinstate Chaudhry on March 16, two days after Sharif warned him that he would face a revolution. He had no other choice. The army had refused to clash with those marching toward the capital, the information minister had already resigned in protest, and Zardari looked weaker than ever. {thanks RJ]


Post a Comment

<< Home