Failure at home, ‘uninvited’ mediator abroad

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 05:34 PM, 28 Feb, 2021
Failure at home, ‘uninvited’ mediator abroad

The release on bail of PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz after some two years in jail has established beyond doubt that the PTI authorities failed to produce any convincing evidence before the Lahore High Court of him possessing assets beyond means, the main allegation against him. 

The development has served as a morale booster for the country’s main opposition party that is already doing its best to oust what it calls the selected government at the earliest. 

Propriety demands that the prime minister should ask his accountability czars where is the evidence against the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, whose family is reviled day in and day out for indulgence in corrupt practices. 

Those claiming to have ‘unearthed’ irrefutable evidence against the accused must be taken to task for this shameful defeat in court. 

The release of young and energetic Hamza on Saturday has come about at a time when the PDM is working out an effective strategy against the PTI government. Some media reports say that a dozen of PTI MNAs are in touch with Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, PPP candidate for the general seat of Senate from Islamabad, and have offered the former prime minister their support provided the PML-N assures them of tickets in the next elections.

PTI legislators assuring the PPP leader of their support against PML-N tickets surety for next elections – unbelievable!!!

The deal in question means that not all ruling party leaders are satisfied with their government’s performance and they want to secure their future by whatever means.

It is in this situation that Prime Minister Imran Khan signaled Pakis­tan’s readiness to take the peace process with India forward, and said making headway was contingent on India providing an environment conducive to progress. 

“We have always stood for peace and remain ready to move forward to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue,” he said in a series of tweets on the second anniversary of Pakistan Air Force’s ‘Swift Retort’ operation in which two intruding Indian Air Force fighter planes were shot down and one of the pilots was captured. 

This is after the two countries have agreed to honour a ceasefire on the Line of Control that witnessed some of the worst violations by the Indian troops in recent years.

Emphasizing that the onus of creating an enabling environment for further progress rests with India, PM Khan urged India to “take necessary steps to meet the longstanding demand and right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination according to UNSC resolutions”. 

In his latest tweets the premier made no mention of the previous condition set by Pakistan, including the reversal of August 2019 action by India to annex the Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, for a meaningful engagement and ceasing of human rights abuses in the Valley. 

This is a very significant omission, although the foreign office insists there is no shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Maybe it’s so, but it is very difficult to digest.

Which world the prime minister lives in? The question arose when a few days ago, Imran Khan while addressing a conference in Colombo said that Pakistan can play the role of a mediator between the US and China to heal the widening rift between the two countries. 

It is not clear whether any of the two countries have approached the cricketer-turned-politician for mediation to benefit from his ‘diplomatic skills’ and his knowledge of world affairs. 

Apparently, he volunteered his services to improve the worsening ties between the world only superpower and its potential rival. 

Logically, any individual or country can play an effective role only if it has ties with both or at least one country. 

In this particular situation, Pakistan has very good ties with China but has little say in the United States, although Washington will like to use Islamabad for the attainment of its targets in Afghanistan. 

Before making an offer for mediation between China and United States, Prime Minister should first take stock of his ‘achievements’ on the Iran-Saudi front – where he was in a better position to play an effective role as the parties on both sides were Muslim and Pakistan has good ties with both of them. 

So far, there is no progress on this front and the two Muslim brothers remain daggers drawn. 

In the prevailing situation the prime minister should better focus his attention on solving domestic problems. And before establishing his credentials as an interlocutor at the international level he should come up to the expectations of millions of Kashmiris who have pinned their hopes on Pakistan and are enduring Indian atrocities believing that one day they would become part of the Islamic republic.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.