Nawaz Sharif – The Jihadist’s and General’s man in Pakistan
Nawaz Sharif who is currently vying for power in Pakistan against President Zardari, has had a long history of siding with extremists and terrorists in his lust of power. This tendency, which started early in his national career in Pakistan, continued through his first tenure as national leader, and may continue today.
As a protege of Zia ul Haq, the dictator who controlled Pakistan in the 1980’s, Sharif’s anti-democratic tendencies were already in bloom. Sharif’s own power base in Punjab was built by bribery and favoratism along with pandering to religious extremists . The greatest outrage, in retrospect, is Sharif’s alliance with Osama Bin Laden. In Sharif’s battle against Benazair Bhutto, Bin Laden’s funds helped orchestrate the removal of Bhutto from power. Bin Laden knew he needed to secure at least neutrality if not outright support from Pakistan in his goal to turn Afghanistan into his own personal terrorist training camp. Sharif was Bin Laden’s man for this mission, at once corrupt enough to take the money, and oblivious enough to not grasp the horror he helped unleash on the world. By the time Sharif was forced from power, it was too late. Bin Laden’s network had struck.
But, Sharif generally allied himself with anti-democratic religious forces within Islam. During the 1990’s when Sharif’s leadership was leading Pakistan into nuclear brinksmanship with India, Sharif pursued the implementation of Sharia law for Pakistan, and positioned himself as the final arbiter of religious justice, in direct opposition to the rule of law already in place. Sharif admired the Taliban in Afghanistan. So much so, he desired to implement Taliban style law and style of governing in Pakistan. Sharif also worked to move terror operatives into Kashmir, and risk open, general war with India. The horror of a nuclear armed Taliban style regime is almost beyond imagination. His embrace of terrorism and jihad also led to high level official links to Wahhabi radical groups within Pakistan ([p. 298-299, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, by Hussain Haqqani, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace]
Today, with Nawaz Sharif attempting to usurp the rule of President Zardari, he finds himself the tool of the military and ISI (Pakistan intelligence agency). We see the Generals calling the shots in regards to the unlawful street protests Sharif called recently. Sharif seems content to play the role of the “useful idiot” to the army and ISI, which always benefit during periods of intense political conflict and brinksmanship. Sharif refuses to embrace any sort of reasonable political norms when it comes to the long-term peace and stability of Pakistan. Jihadists and Generals both stand to gain when civilian political groups become locked in unending conflict, or engage in extra-legal means (such as Sharif’s mass-marches) of political combat. His stubborn refusal to learn the lesson’s of his own country’s history put his own countrymen in danger.