Even as India focuses on black money and corruption with messianic zeal, the real action has taken place in Pakistan where sitting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been unseated by the judiciary with a 5-0 verdict. By disqualifying Sharif and his family, another of Pakistan’s fleeting trysts with democracy has once again been plunged into chaos. It is clear that Sharif's brother, Shabaz, chief minister of Punjab, will take over the baton to run the country so that PML-N continues to call the shots in Pakistan politics. India must be wary of these developments for the complex and strained ties between Rawalpindi and Islamabad notwithstanding, the menacing Aabpara headquartered ISI-Jehadi network needs to be kept an eye on.
In the smoke and mirrors world of Pakistan, Sharif’s impeachment and his disqualification for life from contesting Parliament is bound to accentuate the deep divide between the judiciary, elected representatives and the all powerful Pakistani Army establishment. In the process, notorious Pakistani spy agency, ISI would turn all the more aggressive in a country run by anti-India hawks. The five-judge Supreme Court decision pronounced in unanimity was against reported massive corruption perpetuated by Sharif’s family that came to light through the Panama papers. Most of his immediate family members have been indicted for holding unaccounted assets across geographies through offshore companies.
Following Sharif’s ouster, the emergence of multiple power centres in PML-N may further weaken democratic forces in Pakistan. And, this would only mean that undeclared military rule in Pakistan would continue with instability having an adverse impact on immediate neighbours, including India and Afghanistan. De-militarising the political establishment in Pakistan would have any day contributed positively to peace and tranquility in Asia. But, China’s undeniable hold on Pakistani civil-military set up adds to the Byzantine twists and increases the headache for India. Pakistan’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, an old anti-India hawk, would only get all the more emboldened to push infiltration of trained terror modules into India. Pakistan’s isolation was complete globally after it denied counselor access to Kulbhushan Jadav. If one were to go by reports, Jadav may never receive a fair trial in Pakistan’s military courts. Against this backdrop, reducing political forces to the fringe may not help improve Pakistan’s standing internationally barring with China. Its rather interesting to note that not one elected prime minister in Pakistan, including Nawaz Sharif, has been allowed to serve a full term beginning 1947 when it became a separate republic. It remains to be seen how much space the army and the ISI will allow Shabaz Sharif after he gets himself elected to the National Assembly, even as his brother Nawaz appeals to the National Accountability Bureau.