November 2016

By | Newsbeat National | Published 3 years ago

nl-november-coverAs the year drew to a close, the country appeared to be riven apart by a full-blown political crisis. And we are not talking of the Almeida Leaks, although the fallout of that story has rattled the corridors of power to their very foundations.

But that is only one of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s multifarious problems. It’s the issue of Panama Leaks that threatens to bring down the entire parliamentary edifice, if it remain unaddressed.

With his lackadaisical style of governance and his penchant for procrastination, Sharif has let this problem fester to a point where his own survival appeared to be at stake. For seven months, the joint opposition, led by the Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had continuously demanded that a judicial commission, with acceptable terms of reference (TORs), be set up to investigate allegations of corruption against the First Family following the Panama Leaks. But the PML-N kept on dragging its feet. They did the same, when post-elections, the PTI asked them to open up four constituencies to probe allegations of rigging. Accountability of the First Family was seen as a “threat to democracy.” A propaganda campaign against the PTI was unleashed on national television — with public funds.

Fed up of waiting, a restless Imran Khan decided to take his battle to the streets, determined to settle the issue of Panama Leaks, once and for all. To quote him, “it’s a do or die situation.”

The battles raging in Islamabad, Lahore and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as PTI supporters headed to the capital for the lockdown, removing containers et al along the way, were very disturbing. The country seemed to be at war with itself, as police tear-gassed and baton-charged stone-throwing PTI supporters, and even fired shells, setting several cars on fire and injuring many demonstrators.

Unfortunately, the PTI-Sharif battle is not the only one that Pakistan is currently besieged with. The country’s war with its non-state actors is not yet over. In two, back-to-back strikes on a hospital and a police training academy, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) acting in cahoots with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), scores of lawyers and policemen lost their lives.

But IS is not the only enemy knocking at the door. The Pak-India border is resounding with the sound of gunfire once again. Cross-border incursions have led to casualties among civilians and soldiers on both sides, presenting a clear and present danger of a full-scale war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Can the country afford to go to war, when there are so many fires raging within its own backyard?

Fortunately for the hapless citizens of this country, after a long wait, the Supreme Court has stepped in to quell the Panama fires. It has decided to set up a judicial commission and, based on the TORs presented from both the government and PTI sides, proceed to investigate Panama Leaks. Will the issue finally be laid to rest?

The captain decided to convert his dharna, on November 2, into a day of thanksgiving. There the matter rests — for now.

 

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.

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