The Dirty Deal: Both Will Pay The Price

Military Let Nawaz off the Hook

Farooq Tariq General Secretary Labour Party Pakistan

In a dramatic political move, Ex Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif has been allowed to leave Pakistan by the military regime to proceed to Saudi Arabia Palongside with his 19 family members. He had been sentenced for 21 years on the accusation of hijacking the plane on 12th October 1999.

The deal between military and Nawaz Sharif for his sudden departure from Pakistan has raised many serious questions on the nature of the ruling classes of Pakistan, the future of Muslim League, effects on the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy and above all on the future of the military regime. Who will gain what out of this move? Both the parties, it seemed had been working on this formula for sometime. They both must have their own conclusions of the outcome of this move. Long term or interim relief or a disaster for both of them will be seen in future.

The military and Nawaz Sharif both would have come to this deal thinking of their political or physical advantages from their own capitalist class point of view. We would look into this development from the working class interests. What affect this move will have on the politics of the working class? What necessary conclusions we have to draw from this dirty tactics on both sides. There is nothing "humanitarian" in this episode as has been claimed by general Rashid Quereshi, the chief spokesman of the military regime. The decision is nothing to do with the deteriorating "health" of Nawaz Sharif as military have shown not much concern during the past one year. "Health is Wealth" claim of Kalsoom Nawaz, wife of Nawaz Sharif, is another cover of their total capitulation to the military regime. The decision is out rightly a political one on class basis. Both the parties have taken safe refuge, external or internal, by this unprecedented outrages deal.

The Nawaz camp has played dirty capitalist tactics, first by joining the ARD last week and hosting the first meeting of ARD at their supporter house in Rawalpindi. By joining ARD alongside with Pakistan Peoples Party, Muslim League pressurized the military regime to come to a deal, they must have been offering for sometime. The military spokesman confirmed that "for some time" the Chief Executive General Pervaiz Musharaf had been receiving requests and applications from Sharif family to go abroad for "medical treatment". The fundamental reason for military regime to let Nawaz go of the hook is not any request of clemency or intervention by the Saudi Prince as has been claimed by the National Media. It was the potential power of ARD to launch a mass movement that terrified the military regime. And the core commanders agreed to what was unthinkable few months before.

Primarily, the decision to let Nawaz Sharif go in exile represents a retreat of a weakening military government. It is, in fact, its second decisive retreat during the last few months. Earlier, the military regime had to abandon its plan to build a controversial Kala Bagh Dam. The construction of the dam was opposed by the three nationalities, Sindhi, Baluchi and Pushtoons on the ground that it will deprive them from its share of water from river Sind.

The military regime has bought tremendous hate redness from the masses by obliging to the conditional ties of IMF and World Bank. That meant a large-scale retrenchment of public sector and unprecedented price-hike. The military has lost what it had gained "a sense of relief" by the masses when it overthrew the unpopular authoritarian kingdom of Nawaz Sharif in October 99. They have learned the hard way of the realities of running a crisis ridden declining economy. The release of IMF loan installment last week had only let the regime to breath a while when they heard of the formation of the new alliance.

The military had been building its case against Nawaz Sharif as a corrupt leader who have looted and plundered the state wealth on an unprecedented manner. The so-called accountability process had produced thousands of pages proving the corruption of Nawaz family. He was sentenced to seven-year imprisonment in one such case.

The whole justification of military take over was that the ruling Muslim League has brought the country to near collapse economically. Nawaz was "the criminal" among the whole range of "criminal politician" according to the military propaganda. But a weakened military regime took an internal refuge by getting rid of its main enemy by pardoning his sins and sending him abroad. By this action, the whole process of accountability has become a cruel joke. It was and will be seen as a tactic to prolong the military regime. It was a bitter fact already that those "corrupt" leaders of Muslim League who have advocated a compromise with the regime were never touched buy the National Bureau of Accountability. But those with Nawaz Camp were arrested and cases were registered against them of corruption and malpractices.

It seems that Nawaz Sharif will pay even a heavier price than the military regime. He had been boosting till yesterday, a life long fight for the restoration of democracy. His wife Kalsoom led a bitter struggle to kick those out of the party who had suggested to compromise with the military regime. The main contradiction with Shujaat clique was on the question of an alliance with PPP. Kalsoom Nawaz boosted that an alliance with PPP with help to bring the struggle for democracy closer. "This is to launch a mss movement against the regime," she said several times.

Nawaz Sharif was in jail for over a year. The military was becoming more unpopular day by day. The formation of ARD had raised the hopes of many as the only alternative to the military regime. A momentum was building up for a confrontation with the regime. The sudden capitulation of Nawaz Sharif will give the military some more breathing space. But it is he and his Muslim League that will bear the burden of unpopularity than any one else. Muslim League can be termed as a traditional conservative party of the rich in Pakistan. It has a long history of compromises with every ruling class and military regime. Right from the British Imperialism to the present day military regime, Muslim League has kept its uninterrupted record of compromises and reconciliation instead of fighting back.

The capitulation of Nawaz Sharif has once again exposed the real nature of the capitalist politicians in the colonial countries. They cannot put a real fight for any rights. They cannot play any progressive role in achieving the goals of modernization of the society. They have not yet been able to end feudalism or achieved democratic rights, industrialization or a national unity in the real sense. They are totally dependent on the mercy of Imperialism and on the army in case of Pakistan. Those who had hoped against hope that the capitalist class will ever play a progressive role have been disappointed again and again.

Leon Trotsky, a central leader of Bolshevik Revolution alongside with Vladimir Lenin had argued in his historic book, "the theory of Permanent Revolution" that the Russian capitalist class, because of its late entry onto the stage of history, was too weak economically and politically, too much tied to the old land relations and too subservient to its stronger international competitors, to lead the revolution in Russia. So was the case thousand times more correct in case of Pakistan and other ex colonial countries. The examples of Bhotto, Benazir and now Nawaz Sharif bring this historic conclusion that the ruling class is unable to solve any of the basic problems of the working class. They in fact pave the way for brutal military regimes to take over power again and again. "Do not trust the rich politician" will be the main lesson that working class has to learn once again by this whole drama.

The working class has to build a party of the workers by themselves. No one else apart from himself or herself has to create and build a mass party that is capable of fighting the ongoing military control of the state. In the days to come, the military will be boosting that any politician who will dare to fight with them will be subjected to such humiliation as Nawaz has undergone by this deal. "No one can challenge the supremacy of military" will be the main lesson that military will want us to believe. But it will not be a dirty deal of any rich corrupt politician that will strengthen the military. It will be object conditions that will determine the fate of the present military regime. Subject factors cannot alter the path of history. It is weak economy with no prospect of picking up that will make sure that despite the betrayal of Nawaz Sharif, the military regime will not last long. It cannot repeat the history of decade of military rules, as was the case of General Ayub Khan in the sixties or Zia ul Hague in the Eighties.

The dirty deal has made the life of Nawaz family and the military regime to at some ease not the lives of millions who spend their days in utmost poverty. This fact will remain the crucial deciding factor when we have to discuss the future of the military regime. The dirty deal is a temporary blow for the recently formed ARD. But it will pick up some support if PPP does not repeat the same history. The husband of Benazir Bhotto is in jail for the last four years. If PPP make a same dirty deal for the release of Asif Zardari, it can loose another opportunity to pick some of its lost support in the days to come. Labour Party Pakistan ha opposed the military regime form the day one. It will continue its campaign for the restoration of democracy linking it with the need to change the capitalist system with a genuine democratic socialism.

Labour Party Pakistan Sufi Mansion 7-Egerton Road Lahore Tel/Fax: 92 42 6303808