PML-N: Opportunists vs. Loyalists
It started amidst the cold wintry Chicago nights of 2003, when I would stay up well past midnight, awaiting morning in Saudi Arabia, where I would call and blandish Shakeel, the operator into getting my call through to Mian Nawaz Shareef; so that I may assure him that the youth of Pakistan stood behind him in the reinstatement and supremacy of law and constitution in Pakistan.
In 2004 a few of us tried to re-assemble the weak and disjointed PML-N through social media and the Internet and establish some connection between its leadership and the political workers but this effort failed to materialise. Finally, when the party website was created, I was honored with its responsibility which remains on my shoulders to this day.
However, it was my employment at the IMF that gave me a deeper understanding of the complexity of Pakistan’s socio-economic problems. In 2050, Pakistan’s population will be over 350 million. Just imagine, twice the number of people in the already overcrowded streets of our few urban centers … twice as many users of energy resources, twice the demand for affordable food, shelter and clothing, twice the number of employable youngsters looking for jobs and twice the number of children seeking education … the picture for the future of a state that has no plan for energy generation, optimal resource utilisation and infrastructural development to sustain this population is grim! To solve the problems faced by Pakistan, we need a leadership that thinks above and beyond cast, creed, sect and ethnicity.
After the reinstatement of the judges, Mian Nawaz Sharif gained unprecedented popularity amongst the masses of Pakistan. Even Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had not commanded such unanimous and unequivocal support from all sects and provinces. This brought hope to political activists and supporters such as me, and we were certain that Mian Sahib will now abandon the politics of the 90’s and move towards the challenges of the future. However, sadly in the minds of the ideological worker confusion replaced hope and from March 9, 2009 to 30 October, 2011 we were a directionless party with no coherent plan of action. The leadership remained ambiguous on issues of national security, foreign policy and debt crisis. The party remained a silent spectator as the national debt mounted, and the energy crisis left the country in darkness. The political worker was confused as the party continued hoping between being PPP’s coalition partner and its vehement opposition.
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst after 30 Oct, 2011. Musharraf’s team made its way back into PML-N so his spokespersons are now our spokespersons, his “so-called brothers” are now our “so-called brothers”, his minister for electricity may very well become the minister of electricity under the PML-N government and so on and so forth.
Those of us, who struggled against President Musharraf and dictatorship from day one, are no longer on the forefront and the party has once again been hijacked by opportunists. To the ideological supporter like me, nothing could be more troublesome or degrading, then to see the same people gain important positions in PML-N, who have vacillated from one ruling party to another, and promoted nothing but personal agendas and authority. These are the people responsible for the many challenges faced by today’s Pakistan and their inclusion into the party’s decision making body has mortified the ideological supporter who now feels that money and influence have gained priority over ideology and loyalty.
Mian Nawaz Sharif needs to remember that he has been blessed with people’s support and mandate. He is a two time elected prime minister who will forever be remembered for the historic nuclear tests and is not in need of conventional politics and traditional politicians. He now needs to promote a culture of honest politics and bring forward well educated, ideological and sincere youngsters and create a party of young, vibrant intellectuals who can face the challenges of tomorrow. It is the inclusion of young leadership in the past that has developed party leaders like Ahsan Iqbal and Saad Rafique. These are the true ideological leaders that always have and always will support the party through thick and thin while the opportunist are quick to switch sides and support with dictators.
Mian Sahib must remember that the solution to complex issues that loom in the future of Pakistan lie in a party devoid of opportunists. He must embrace the ideological worker and nurture merit based leadership as people want to see a party that challenges the status quo and where people are appreciated because of their ideas and integrity not their family names!
Agha Adeel is a business intelligence consultant based in Washington DC. He has been advocating the reformation of Pakistani politics through his writings and political activism. He can be reached at email@example.com
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