Feb 28, 2009


The court proceedings of Wednesday with the verdict removing the Sharif Brothers from the political landscape came as a rude shock to the Pakistani people here and abroad. Though not entirely unexpected the Supreme Court decision has opened another front for an already beleaguered Pakistan. With the Maulanas Sufi and Fazlullah basking in the glory of their triumph in Swat, the sudden turmoil in Lahore, the premier city and capitol of Punjab makes for very tempting waters for them to fish in. With a spectacular gain in Swat, the militants are in a serious bid to take advantage of the disarray of the secular force. Their prayers have been answered. The destruction of the posters of their hated nemesis Benazir, and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto were seen as the destruction of secular, and modernist enemies of the Islamic parties. The political climate in Pakistan, with two of the four provinces under the influence of militants should have raised concerns in the centre to handle the Punjab very carefully, and indeed the prime minister did create a rapport of mutual comfort between Shabaz Sharif and himself. So when the Supreme Court decision came he could honestly claim it was outside his knowledge. The disappointment was writ large on the face of the PM showing he had done his best, and the verdict was not in the country's interest.More dangerous is the old maxim: "Justice must be seen to be have been done." Here the people have been convinced that the verdict was written elsewhere and not in the Supreme Court.It is now for the prime minister to use his considerable Multani charm to bring the Sharif brothers back into the political mainstream. It is vital that the two leadership of the two major parties should work with a spirit of accommodation.

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