THE latest allegations are unsurprising and have been made by others before, but the bluntness and detail with which they have now been spelled out are remarkable and potentially dangerous.
Former prime minister and under-trial PML-N supremo, Nawaz Sharif, has once again set the cat among the pigeons by claiming that his quest to put former president and military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason was the trigger for a campaign to oust Mr Sharif from public office and front-line politics.
Mr Sharif’s further claim that the 2014 joint dharna by the PTI and Tahirul Qadri was sponsored by sections of the security establishment is virtually an open secret, but could nevertheless prove further destabilizing.
Also compelling are the details that Mr Sharif has purportedly divulged, including an alleged demand by a former spy chief for Mr Sharif to either quit the prime ministership altogether or temporarily step down from office.
Behind the facade of democracy appear to lie deep divisions.
Surely, Mr Sharif must bring convincing proof to back up his serious allegations.
In addition, the more Mr Sharif speaks his mind, the more contradictions in his pro-democracy narrative appear.
Set aside the timing of his latest broadsides and revelations.
Clearly, the imminent possibility or perhaps likelihood of a conviction and jail sentence being handed down by the NAB court has factored in Mr Sharif’s calculations.
But what is more troubling is that the former PM wants to be regarded as a latter-day champion of democracy without expressing remorse for his role in the dismantling of democracy in the past.
In condemning the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Mr Sharif is correct: the judicially sanctioned murder of the founder of the PPP is an undeniable, historic catastrophe.
But it is odd to condemn the hanging of Bhutto without condemning the man responsible for the murder by the state, Zia ul Haq.
Mr Sharif has had a number of opportunities to disavow the dictatorship of Gen Zia, but has conspicuously chosen not to do so.
Indeed, it is impossible to imagine that the Sharif political dynasty and business empire could have reached anywhere near the proportions it has without the patronage of Gen Zia.
It is conceivable that Mr Sharif has truly come to understand the pernicious effect of institutional interference in the country’s political process and genuinely desires change.
But the deepening and strengthening of democracy will not come about simply by pointing out the mistakes that others have made; the would-be custodians of the democratic project need to candidly acknowledge their own role in undermining democracy.
Why is it so difficult for Mr Sharif to publicly recognize the disaster that the Zia regime was for this country and the Sharif family’s role in perpetuating the regime?
To establish his bona fides as a democrat today, Mr Sharif should seek the people’s forgiveness for past mistakes.
Dawn editorial May 25, 2018