Initially, Sartaj Aziz and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra were the only front-runners for presidential office, but when the ruling party PML-N finalized the name of Mamnoon Hussain, it surprised us all. It was an astoundingly wise political move by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to bring in someone from a smaller province. This not only shows itself to be a break away from the tradition but also a step towards creating harmony among different ethnicities and federating units.
Nawaz Sharif’s decision to invite and support Baloch nationalist parties in the forming the government in Balochistan is well- received across the country. Moreover, although PML-N did get a clear majority in Islamabad and Punjab, they chose to avoid the dirty politics of horse-trading in KPK and Balochistan, allowing them to form their own governments. These well thought-out moves by Nawaz Sharif, in a fragile political state of affairs, show that he has learnt from the history and is now ready to reconcile in the larger interest of Pakistan.
This goes contrary to PML-N’s history of confrontations with Army chiefs, Superior Judiciary and different political parties, which doomed their governments in the past. The nomination of Mamnoon Hussain for presidency, a Karachiite with heavy weights from PML-N’s Punjab cadre, shows Sharif’s seriousness in addressing the primary grievance of Karactiites-their alienation from the centre. Mamnoon Hussain’s nomination came as a surprise followed by another, when a high-level PML-N delegation led by finance minister Ishaq Dar, visited Nine Zero.
The historic hard-line stance taken by PML-N towards MQM appears to have softened with this visit to MQM’s sector office. Who can forget the July 2007, All Parties Conference in London, where Nawaz Sharif accused MQM for terrorist activities and pronounced that there would be no future political alliance with MQM .
During his first tenure, an army-led operation was launched by Nawaz government in Karachi and city kept resonating with shelling and firing for days. Then his second tenure as PM, he imposed governor rule in Sindh, blaming MQM for Hakim Saeed’s murder.
Karachi, the megapolis city of Pakistan, has always cried out for special attention and care from all governments we have had so far. Urban development, industrial growth, energy resources and mass transit system would surely empower the city of Karachi. The city had been treated more like an orphan in the past, its legitimate needs and demands ignored at the highest level. Mainstream politics revolves around gathering votes from MNA’s and MPA’s of Karachi to form governments. Once the magic number is achieved, the so-called democratic forces forget the important role of the city in Pakistan’s economic stability.
It’s not news that our rulers have a history of not accepting or respecting Karachi’s mandate with open hearts, which indirectly led to the criminal mafia thriving in the city. Haqiqi, Lyari gang wars and the emergence of Taliban in Karachi only proves that governments have either been in peace with these elements for political interests or have failed to curb this menace of extortion, extremism, violence and terrorism so far.
The mega projects announced by PML-N government, including the bullet train from Karachi to Peshawar, metro bus system and circular railway for Karachiites is a clear indicator of party’s shift in policy towards Karachi. PML-N has delivered a great deal in Lahore in the last five years and now it’s about time they work to strengthen Karachi as well. And why not? Karachi is the economic lifeline of Pakistan that the ever-persisting lawlessness and militancy has almost brought to tatters.
Summing it up, PML-N delegation’s visit to Nine Zero is the first step in the right direction towards bringing harmony to the shell-shocked people of Karachi, who have always been victims in the war for power. PML-N needs a carefully calibrated agenda to work for the peace, progress and prosperity of the city. And perhaps time can which way it is for Karachi now.