Sharif: Yet to deliver on his promises

Sharif: Yet to deliver on his promises

Exepectations that top-level changes in the military and judicial hierarchies will help curb corruption and improve overall governance have begun to slowly vanish, as it seems that the civilian administration led by Nawaz Sharif is having a field day in the changed scenario.
The Nawaz-led government appears to be following the path of its predecessors. Not only, the government is reluctant on opening graft cases against former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his cohorts, it is almost backing out on its promises made during election campaigns regarding introduction of reforms in the administration etc.
Despite tall claims of adopting austerity measures, we don’t see any signs of slashing expenditures and any change in the lavish lifestyles of those at the helm, as official protocols and security costs remain the same. The economy, which is in tatters since 2008, shows no signs of recovering and there seem little efforts to help improve the situation.
The other day Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar claimed in a television interview that the countries foreign exchange reserves — precarious at the moment — would be “boosted” in three to four months and the rupee-dollar parity, currently at Rs110, would be brought down to Rs98. In the current scenario, it can hardly be called an achievement. Most economists remain skeptical over these claims.
It is true that Sharif has inherited a host of problems, each more complicated than the other. He is faced with huge internal issues like inflation, terrorism and flight of capital from the country. Unfortunately, he has met with failures on almost all these fronts. Without improving the internal situation, the country cannot attract foreign investments.
Taking cues from past experiences and Pakistan’s checkered history, Sharif discarded the principle of choosing the senior-most general to lead the army. Gen. Raheel Sharif has been given preference mainly for two reasons. He was in-charge of training and evaluation of army before being made the new chief of staff, and secondly, he was also recommended for the post by former President Rafiq Tarrar (Sharif had served as his military secretary) and also by the former Balochi General Abdul Qadir, now a minister in the government.
Former army chief Kayani had reportedly favored Gen. Arshad Mahmood for the post but his advice fell on deaf ears. Since Field Marshall Ayub Khan’s era, mostly handpicked generals have been made the army chiefs. Gen. Musa Khan, Yahya, Gul Hasan, Ziaul Haq, Asif Nawaz, Waheed Kakar, Musharraf, and even Kayani, had all superseded their seniors. Gen. Jahangir Karamat remains an exception. Benazir Bhutto had appointed him the army chief in 1995 purely on merit and seniority basis. Sharif, however, forced him out for making a speech that did not go down well the PML-N leader during in second term in the office.
Gen. Haroon Aslam, in this case, was ignored, and had to resign. Sharif also appeared to be scared of commandoes. Musharraf, despite being his handpicked army chief, overthrew his government. This is why a person from different background has been appointed as the army chief.
Gen. Sharif looks a downright professional soldier but whether he will remain so in future, has yet to be seen. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary is set to retire on Dec.11. Justice Tasadduq Jilani may not be that aggressive as his predecessor That will provide a much-needed relief to the prime minister, because the age-old practice of a troika ruling the country, will now banish, and Sharif will now be in total control of the situation. But the premier has the tendency to be dictatorial at times, which may create difficulty for him in the long run. Unless budgetary constraints are applied, and those involved in corruption are held accountable, Sharif or any other ruler will continue to be in trouble. Sharif will have to work much harder and find quick solutions to the problems afflicting the country. The job is not easy and may ultimately reflect on him, sooner than anticipated.
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