Sardar Abdul Khaliq Wasi
The 25th December will always be remembered as a day when a leader was born in India about whom Stanley Wolpert said “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” The whole nation celebrates the birthday of the great leader renewing the pledge that Pakistan will live up to the ideals of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
On the same day, the birthday of the former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has is also being celebrated reiterating the Jinnah’s ideals to make Pakistan a developed, progressive, democratic and welfare state When power was handed over to Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as a result of elections in 2013, the country was embroiled in terrorism, see saw economy, lawlessness, load shedding, dilapidated condition of infrastructure, pressing issues of national dignity and international credibility. Foreign investors were evasive to invest in Pakistan. Nor were the internal conditions such that anyone would be willing to lend a hand to Pakistan. Under such circumstances, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in four years not only curbed terrorism but also significantly increased foreign exchange reserves by stabilizing the economy, eliminating load shedding, reorganizing the infrastructural projects, laying a network of motorways, expressways, and highways, laid the foundation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which gave a new impetus to Pakistan’s economy.
All these initiatives were made possible because of the competent, seasoned and trusted aides of Nawaz Sharif. Former Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s contribution to make the largest province of the country as an apt case of good governance, Ishaq Dar’s pivotal role to extricate Pakistan’s economy from the quagmire and Ahsan Iqbal’s crucial role in thwarting conspiracies against CPEC and launching and leading this lifeline project for Pakistan are too significant to be ignored.
The initiatives taken by Nawaz Sharif during this period were not only enviable but also exemplary. But it is very ironical and deplorable that all of this was taken with a pinch of salt by certain quarters. Machinations were hatched against him to oust him from the office. A litany of politically motivated events ranging from the corruption charges and possession of a work permit in the firm of his son in the UAE have been staged and screened to disqualify him. He was purposefully dethroned and later on got him removed from the presidency of the party. Those wanted to put spoke in the process of prosperity and development remained successful though momentarily.
Convicted in baseless cases, Sharif along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz came to Pakistan to serve his jail term when his life partner Kulsoom Nawaz was on her death bed, battling with cancer at London’s Harley’s Street Clinic. History may not have seen any leader who voluntarily returned from abroad to take his daughter to jail, but Nawaz Sharif did all this for his commitment to law of the land and the people of the country. At the same time when he was languishing in jail, his life partner left for her eternal abode.
Had Sharif been an ordinary leader, he would have surrendered to the rulers, but Nawaz Sharif faced all these hardships with courage and fortitude. The vengeance of the rulers did not cool down. When Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was imprisoned, went to visit him, she was arrested in his presence and re-imprisoned. When the baseless cases against Nawaz Sharif did not prove sufficient, more cases were filed by NAB and he was handed over to NAB from jail. During this confinement, torment and anguish his platelets drastically reduced to the lowest ebb putting his life at serious threat. His survival despite his chronic cardiac issues coupled with the trauma of losing his life partner is no less than a miracle. But this iron man faced all his situation with courage and patience. When he was undergoing treatment in London his mother Mohtarma Shamim Akhtar was breathed her last. Her body was brought to Lahore from London for burial. Shahbaz Sharif was not even given time to receive sympathies from those who came for condolence.
Nawaz Sharif is currently in London for treatment but his heart beats with the people of Pakistan even today. Maryam Nawaz along with the opposition parties have been challenging these incompetent rulers across the country by advancing the narrative of Sharif from the platform of PDM. Addressing a meeting in Lahore, Sharif said that our fight is not with the present rulers but with those who brought them. And that the responsibility for the current crisis in the country lies not only with the Prime Minister Imran Khan but also with the elements who brought him to power. They ought to bear the entire responsibility for the current crisis and turmoil. Today, Sharif is celebrating the 72nd anniversary of his life in the same disease and anguish when his whole family has to suffer a lot and the space for his party has been squeezed.
The countrymen not only congratulate him on the occasion of his birthday but also salute him for the courage he demonstrated during these testing times. At the same time, the people of Pakistan are desperately looking forward to realize the dream of the founder of the nation into a living reality. Sharif’s struggle and contributions to country’s economy, infrastructure development and making Pakistan a first Muslim nuclear state are so significant and pivotal that one can find an echo of Jinnah’s ideals in them.
The writer is a Member Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council.