Total National Backlash Against Shahbaz Sharif


The recent national backlash against his statement on Taliban should be an eye-opener for Shahbaz Sharif, who really ought to be above such rightwing pandering.    Not long ago, I saw him speak in person on his vision of Punjab and I wonder how this statement gels with his vision for Punjab.  Does he want Punjab to be labelled a pro-taliban, pro-terrorist hub?   What is more is that by asking the Taliban to spare Punjab,  Shahbaz Sharif has inadvertently stabbed all the Pakistanis fighting a dire battle against the Taliban from Khyber to Karachi.   He has also strengthened those who accuse PML-N and the Punjab of fostering pro-fundamentalist tendencies.

ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif came in for some sharp attacks in the National Assembly on Monday in a backlash over his appeal to Taliban to spare his province from terror attacks because of a shared stance with his PML-N party against former president Pervez Musharraf.

Two of three members from both the opposition and ruling coalition who spoke against his Sunday’s remarks in a speech in Lahore called for an apology from Mr Sharif, who is also the PML-N president, for negating a national consensus against terrorism and justifying Taliban attacks in other provinces.

His son Hamza Shahbaz Sharif came out with an oratorical rejoinder, citing what he called PML-N’s national outlook ranging from helping terrorism victims in Malakand division of the North West Frontier province last year to its role in campaigns for an independent judiciary and against the controversial Mushaarraf-era 17th Amendment of the constitution, but did not touch his father’s controversial remarks at a seminar two days after two Taliban-claimed suicide attacks in Lahore killed at least 50 people and wounded about 150.

The exchanges came amid speculations in the parliamentary house that the chief minister’s speech could figure in his meeting with Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani later in the evening and follow charges from some critics that the party’s provincial government was protecting members of some banned sectarian groups.

Mr Shahbaz Sharif said in his speech: “General Musharraf planned a bloodbath of innocent Muslims at the behest of others only to prolong his rule, but we in the PML-N opposed his policies and rejected dictation from abroad, and if the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause then they should not carry out acts of terror in (PML-N-ruled) Punjab.” PML-Q’s NWFP president Amir Muqam raised the issue in the house through a point of order as he called for admission of an adjournment motion he had submitted on the Punjab chief minister’s speech, which he said had come as a shock and created a confusion about the anti-terrorism struggle in which people and troops from all provinces were making sacrifices.

“It is not the question of only Punjab and he (Shahbaz Sharif) should apologise from the whole nation,” said Mr Muqam, whose move was immediately supported by Minister of State for Ports and Shipping Nabil Ahmad Gabol, who said other provinces were feeling insecure, and later by a PPP member from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Syed Akhonzada Chitan, who also demanded an apology.

Mr Hamza Sharif used the occasion to complain about a perceived delay in the repeal of the 17th Amendment, prompting s brief response from Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan who said the all-party parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms was meeting regularly and had completed most of its job.

The committee’s report is expected to come before the current session, which completed the present assembly’s second parliamentary year with Monday’s sitting but will make a rare overlap the next parliamentary year and possibly continue until the government comes with the promised 18th constitution amendment bill planned to repeal the 17th Amendment and restore a genuine parliamentary system in the country.

PML-Quaid-e-Azam MPA Nighat Orakzai presented him her Dupatta to cover himself with if he is so afraid of the Taliban.

Nighat Orakzai offers dupatta to Shahbaz Sharif

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Nighat Orakzai on Monday removed her ‘dupatta’ and threw it on the floor during the NWFP Assembly session on Monday, asking the Punjab chief minister (CM) to wear it, in protest against a statement given by him in which he asked the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to “spare the province of Punjab from its terrorist activities”.

According to a private TV channel, the PML-Q MPA said that if Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is so scared of the Taliban, then he should starting wearing a ‘dupatta’. She said the Punjab CM’s statement had revealed that he was only concerned for the safety of his province, and called it a “betrayal” of those killed in terrorist activities in the NWFP.

Speaking at a seminar held at the Jamia Naeemia Mosque on March 14 (Sunday), the Punjab CM had said, “Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf planned a bloodbath of innocent Muslims at the behest of others only to prolong his term in office, but we, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz opposed the former president’s policies and rejected the dictation being received from abroad. If the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause, then they should not carry out acts of terror in the province of Punjab [where the PML-N is the ruling party].”

However, later defending his statement, the Punjab CM said that his remarks were ‘misinterpreted’ and taken out of context. He said that he has always spoken in support of all victims of terrorist activities, especially the people of the NWFP who are bearing the brunt of the majority of terrorist attacks in the country.

Governor Salman Taseer tore into Shahbaz Sharif .  Nation reports:

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer on Monday lambasted Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over his Sunday’s statement in which the CM had appealed to Taliban to spare Punjab because this province had always been against foreign aggression like them.
Talking to the media after attending the convocation of a private university here, Taseer said that Punjab Chief Minister’s statement gave the impression as if Taliban and the PML-N were like brothers and it was because of this relationship that Shahbaz asked them to spare Punjab from their attacks.
He said he was surprised over the statement as he had never heard anything like that before.
‘During the by-elections when they sought support of Sipah-e-Sahaba then I asked Punjab CM which message he wanted to give to the people of Punjab by doing so. I also asked him to say it openly if he wanted to support the organisations involved in spreading sectarianism, and now he (Shahbaz Sharif ) has given his stance on the issue so openly’, Taseer told reporters.
Governor said that Quaid-e-Azam would be turning in his grave over Shahbaz Sharif’s statement. He said he was ashamed of hearing such a thing from Shahbaz Sharif, which was tantamount to saying that spare the Punjabis and do whatever they liked with the people of Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP.
‘On the one hand, entire nation including Pakistan Army and the civilians are fighting against Taliban and laying their lives. The PM and the President have also openly challenged these anti-human elements, and pledging to fight against them till last along with Pakistan Army. On the other hand, you in Punjab have surrendered before them saying, please don’t lay hand on us’, Taseer remarked.
He said Punjab was the biggest stakeholder in the country.
‘We are first Pakistanis, and then Punjabis’, he stressed.
He said all previous agreements made with Taliban proved a futile effort, as they only used these to get themselves reorganised and re-launch attack on the people and the Pakistan Army.
He said Government signed an agreement with Sufi Muhammad in Swat, but he gained time only to attack the Army again.
He said that Shahbaz Sharif’assertion that his party was against the foreign policy of the US, was mind-boggling for him.
‘Let somebody make me understand who rushed to the US at the time of Kargil episode to see the then US President Bill Clinton and to request him to save us’, Taseer asked, adding, that it was strange to see that now they were bragging of following an independent foreign policy.

The Chief Minister was summoned to Rawalpindi by General Kiyani (this in of itself is very disturbing) who reportedly gave him a piece of his mind after which Chief Minister refused to talk to the reporters.    That an elected CM – by an incident of his own making-  allowed democracy ad civilian supremacy to be humiliated by a Grade 22 government servant  is the worst service he could have done.
Shahbaz Sharif is a decent fellow.  He works hard for his province and approaches politics with his business acumen which is above average.  His role in NFC award was the high point of statesmanship.  He understands that neither religious fascism nor war mongering is good for business.  Then why does he allow his government to be associated with such crooked groups as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,  Taliban and the Tehreek-e-Khatme-Nabuwat?    It is hightime that Shahbaz Sharif clarified his position and came out clearly on the side of democracy, common sense and Pakistan.


Filed under Pakistan

29 responses to “Total National Backlash Against Shahbaz Sharif

  1. Hayyer

    That was a downright stupid thing to say. Apropos of a thread many moons ago it is clear that the subcontinent needs top down secular leaders brought up in the traditions of western political philosophies. Pandering to the bottom feeders puts the state in trouble.

  2. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Hayyer,

    “Apropos of a thread many moons ago it is clear that the subcontinent needs top down secular leaders brought up in the traditions of western political philosophies”

    As you may remember, I am the proponent of this view. I was opposed then by Hoss ….

    Now Hoss has taken to attacking me for being a “fundamentalism” supporter and the strawman you created has given him ammunition … even though it has nothing to do with what I wrote.

  3. Majumdar

    Shahbaz bhai’s statements are in keeping with Pakistani state’s own line of thinking on a smaller scale. The Pak elite for long encouraged jihadis to create mayhem in India and A’stan with a fond hope that they wont create a blowback/establish an Islamic state at home in Pakistan. Mr Sharif obviously is replicating that on a smaller scale- he is hoping that the Talibs wud create chaos in Karachi and NWFP but spare Punjab.


  4. B. Civilian

    It is hightime that Shahbaz Sharif clarified his position and came out clearly on the side of democracy, common sense and Pakistan.”

    i’d have thought that was sometime ago. it is too late now.

  5. Tilsim

    The PML-N leadership’s soft corner for the Taliban and other such extremist outfits is not a secret although it’s thankfully now catching national attention. You could clearly discern their inner voice from the non-sensical main argument, namely that the Taliban and extremism are a creation of Musharraf’s policies (supporting the Americans against Taliban). This morning on ARY TV a PML-N leaders was very vocal in calling the Americans, a huge badmash (evil thug) and took care not to use the same language for the Taliban. He argued that terrorism against Pakistanis was a natural response of the US drone attacks. All Shahbaz Sharif has now done is say that their soft corner for terrorism should shield at least Punjab from it. As if…

  6. Mustafa Shaban

    That was a very stupid and c0wardly statement by Shahbaz Sharif. This is not thier point of view, they are just scared.

  7. Tilsim

    The PML-N leader on ARY TV that I referred to is none other than Khawaja Saad Rafique.

  8. Mustafa Shaban

    PMLN is just another curropt feudal party, no matter what they say they wont do anything for Pakistan so I hope that people dont for them.

  9. B. Civilian

    Why does NFP’s piece on this in today’s Dawn online end abruptly? and why are the comments closed without even starting?

  10. Nusrat Pasha

    Each time a soldier falls, during the ongoing Rah-e-Nijat Operation, let the entire nation be reminded that this is the price we must pay for silently tolerating mullaism for six decades. Each shahadat offered and each wound sustained, today, is the result of allowing religion into politics.

    We can not possibly let the blood of our 3000 or so fallen soldiers go in vain.

  11. hoss

    I think it was the other way around. Shahbaz met Gen. Kiyani to request him to stop his “strategic assets” and the “good Jihadi” rampaging and blasting bombs in Lahore.
    Shahabz should not have said what he said and should be condemned for that but there are two things that come in to play. First, how people in Punjab view the Taliban and second the culture of Muslim victimhood in Punjab makes it very difficult for the middle of the road politicians to come straight out against the Taliban.
    One mustn’t also forget that no one in Pakistan and in the Pakistan parliament condemned Kiyani when he publically announced the revival of the Strategic depth doctrine which is most about raising Paramilitary forces like the lashkers and the Taliban to fight India on the cheap.
    Hypocrisy in Pakistan has no boundaries.

  12. Tilsim

    @ B. Civilian

    “Why does NFP’s piece on this in today’s Dawn online end abruptly? ”

    Ha Ha. It looks like he was about to begin a tirade against our “S” friends. Perhaps, certain lines cannot be crossed.

  13. hoss

    The crazy Right and rump Pakistan
    Another phenomenal column by Kamran Shafi in Dawn.
    “Lahore has been attacked twice inside of a week, the attacks killing scores of people and injuring and maiming many more. The intelligence agencies failed all ends up yet again, and as per usual, specially the premier agency aka the Mother of All Agencies which seems to have its finger in every matter — from disappearing people to formulating the country’s foreign policy to destabilising the government whenever it is perceived to be stepping ‘out of line’ — except in running the yahoos to the ground and nipping their evil in the bud.

    You might well ask what I mean by the title of this piece. Simple: the Crazy Right are the successors of the Crush India Brigade of the late 1960s and early 1970s which gave us the Bangladesh tragedy (which of course had other reasons too); rump Pakistan is the country we are left with after the breakup of Pakistan as a result of the exertions of the crazy Right. They might well succeed yet again.”

    We know where those Yahoos are…

  14. Maestro96

    This just goes back to vindicate my earlier comments on previous posts regarding the ideological leanings of PML-N. The party is carrying the legacy of the Zia era. The Sharriff brothers are a bunch of cowards. I have not seen a single statement from either of them which condemns the Taliban. It is no secret that at one time during the early 90s, NS also met with Osama Bin Laden. Punjab needs to be awakened to the menace of religious terrorism and this I am afraid will only happen after the GHQ switches its position.

  15. stuka

    I think u guys are beating up on PML N for no reason. In 1999 it was very same Shahbaz Sharif that gave chitrol to Jamaat e Islami and Johadis after they created a scene during Vajpayee’s visit. At the time, it was Army chief Musharraf who refused to come to Lahore against wishes of Prime Minister and was hailed by right wing burger and Mummy Daddy brigade.

    If Pak Army can differntiate between Good and Bad Taliban, why can’t PML N. They are looking after their own interests. Back in the day, Riaz Basra was also killed by PML N government, so it can crack down on sectarians and Johadis when it needs to.

    “One mustn’t also forget that no one in Pakistan and in the Pakistan parliament condemned Kiyani when he publically announced the revival of the Strategic depth doctrine which is most about raising Paramilitary forces like the lashkers and the Taliban to fight India on the cheap.”

    This issue is critical..maybe more so for Afganistan than India. Taliban is openly sectarian and yet some are good. So why can’t PML N advocate policies that help them in their area of concern?

  16. PM

    Good Taliban are hot commodity these days for everybody including Anglos, Indians and lefties. Governor Taseer can share political stage with one of South Punjab Taliban but it is a no no for PMLN. Karzai is angry that he can’t have tea with Mulla Bradar. Rehman Malik is unwilling to stop the flow of explosives from Afghanistan. It pays to keep mayhem going. So the story is that my Taliban is good, your bad.

  17. Maestro96

    PML-N should be criticized as much as possible for their soft corner to TTP and the fundamentalist train of thought in Pakistan. Looks like PML-N is trying to outdo PTI and JI in protecting the TTP in the public opinion of Pakistan.

  18. Ammar

    People have no nerve left for anyone who remotely sympathizes with Taliban. We have suffered their heinous acts for years and now we will not bow down, Taliban are not just anti-America they are opposed to modernity, education, Peace and every other cherished values of our society. There is no room for talks with such militants. The only way out is for them to lay down their arms and denounce violence and let the law takes its due course.

  19. nolikegohome

    shahbaz is a closet taliban according to mushy in a recent statement.
    get rid of him asap he is a danger to the nation.
    better still send him to the taliban they would love to invite him to dinner.

  20. Yasir Qadeer

    If any political parties has a soft corner for nay extremist group, it’s an act condemnable to the core. At one side we are trying to fight the extremist ideologies on all fronts and on other sides all efforts are being sabotaged by one political force. It’s sad.

  21. Ali Abbas

    @PM, trying to create a symmetry between PPP and PML N wrt links with banned organizations and CURRENT support for the Taliban is dishonest. Governer Taseer has openly acknowledged that the Sipah Sahaba activist who briefly shared a stage with him was a plant and he did not know about the former’s affiliation with Sipah Sahaba. Governor Taseer, President Zardari, Altaf Hussain, Asfandiyar Wali have openly and unequivocally condemned the Taliban! The Sharif brothers have done no such thing. On the contrary, Rana Sanaullah flaunted his electionering with the Sipah Sahaba and justified it. Furthermore, the PPP-ANP-MQM governing coalition has a clear opinion on the issue of the Taliban and have not allowed JUI, a very junior coalition member in terms of seats, to dictate that view. The PML N seems like an elected extension of the JI.

  22. B. Civilian

    @Ali Abbas

    your point about the two not being comparable is valid. however, there is no innocent explanation for the ppp supporting, to whatever extent, hafiz salman butt in na-123. it was pure electioneering with as much principle involved as ppp’s coalition govts including JUI/fazlurrehman.

    also, is taseer trying to tell us that nobody even in the local ppp knew who rao javed was, and that nobody cared to tell him? and he never cared to ask? was he there attending a pml-n public meeting?

  23. Arshad Nadeem

    The whole country is on fire and reverberating with terrorist attacks left, right and centre and at this occasion statement of C.M Punjab is par to rub salt on the wounds of terrorism struck nation.

    At a time when Pakistan is fighting militancy on its soil, the PML-N taking a pro-militant stance is rubbing salt into the wounds of the Pakistani nation. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has dug a pit for himself by passing these callous remarks, exposing his true character and color that his party’s in the process. The suspicion against the PML-N that it has been harboring ties with banned militant outfits has now been all but proved. We saw in the by-elections in Jhang how the Punjab law minister was hobnobbing with a leader of a banned outfit and when confronted with the news, he showed no remorse. Such is the level of politics being played by the PML-N at the cost of this nation’s future. The Punjab government has long been in denial over the presence of militants in Southern Punjab. It needs to wake up before it is too late.

    The news of the TTP offering to stop these attacks if the Punjab government assures that it would stop the crackdown against the militant’s further highlights the implicit nexus between the terrorists and the PML-N. It would not be far from the truth if we were to say that the PML-N is proving itself to be the greatest existentialist threat to the remaining part of Jinnah’s Pakistan.

  24. PM

    I maintain my position that politicos would dance with the devil if need be. They have worked with criminal mafias in the past and I predict that Taliban will be sought after and used for political purposes. The biggest somersault will come from ANP.

  25. Whenever Shareefs feel threatened by any side, be it mullah, zardari, establishment etc… they take refuge in Jamia Naeemiyyah. They are cowards…

  26. rex minor

    I like Hoss’s comments. Hypocracy in Pakistan has no boundries.
    Perhaps the CM did not use the right words palatable by the intellectual crowd in the parliament. It is better to be a coward politician and save the lives of his citizens then to play a heroe at the expense of innocents lives.
    Let the military face the music, after all they are playing the music of former military dictator who got them on the US payroll.
    What I see is a farce in the killing of muslims by the muslims, and then burying the dead as heroes of the paradise. I would have thought that all the deads who are involved in the killing are going to land in hell! In God’s world neither the army
    nor their enemy have any privilege;

    “Though shall not kill” was the commandment of God to his Prophets. Now do’nt tell me that the Pakistan clergy is telling that the jehad is allowed among the muslims?
    I pray that the Talibans heed and refrain from violent acts. Let the CM stay in power to protect the citizens of his province.

  27. bushra naqi

    Since the politics of the sharif brothers is based entirely on vested interests, it is not surprising that they will pander to whomsoever serves their interest, and try to destroy whosover stands in their way.

    They will therefore always take shelter in ambiguity and duplicity. They have made a mockery of pakistani politics and will continue to dupe naive citizens of this state. Such are the ways of unscrupulous politicians

  28. rex minor

    @ bushra Naqi,
    Would anyone regard Sharif brothers vested interest not allowing the plane carrying the former military General to land in pakistan. I thought it was a suicidal mistake and so was the outcome. The recent statement about the Taliban is another example of taking political risks head on without any assurance of the positive results. They have placed themselves at the equal footing with Imran Khan, a new comer in politics. I see in these examples the simple desire for peace in their land.
    I salute them and feel sorry for them.

  29. Nebu

    You’ve got it completely upside down.

    Shahbaz Sharrif was responding to Hamid Mir’s observation in the preceding speech that Musharraf’s policies were responsible for a spike in terrorism in Punjab. What Sharif said was simply a debunking of that observation in that if the Taliban were really only taking revenge for Musharraf’s deeds, then they would have no reason to attack Punjab. He was actually pointing to their wider agenda.

    That was a difficult idea to express, and he appeared to struggle over the choice of words, but failed and by the loose wording gave the chance to the types like the author to score some cheap points.