Thursday Oct 11, 2018
If Shehbaz Sharif, the former chief minister of Punjab, were to pen an open letter from jail today, it would read something like this.
When I was a free man, it was said that I always fly and will soon reach for the sky. But that did not happen and I am in custody today, patiently waiting to be heard.
When I had power, I was referred to as the Khadim-e-Aala. Had I won the 2018 general election, I would have been called the Khadim-e-Azam, the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Alas, it did not happen. Instead of being commended for initiating development projects such as the Orange Line, Metro Train, the Metro Bus and the Danish Schools, I was defeated by pre-poll rigging. If I was prime minister, the Orange Line would have been up and running by now, the Islamabad Metro would have been extended to the motorway and even Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transit would have been completed.
I saved the national exchequer billions of rupees in these projects, yet I am being blamed for financial corruption.
If I had been born in China, the Communist Party would have given me the highest office for my services. If I was born in Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan would have rewarded me most generously. But it is my misfortune that in my own country my work is not appreciated.
During my time as the chief minister of Punjab, I firmly believed in working with all state institutions. This is what I also advised my older brother, Nawaz Sharif, and leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-N. I kept my head low and out of confrontation in courtrooms. Even then, I was punished for crimes that I never committed.
The extremists within my own political party called me a coward. They thought of my reconciliatory policy as wrong and yet, I did what I believed in. My detractors insisted that despite all this, I too will one day be in the accountability grip. Today, I am forced to realize that they may have been right.
I imparted the same guidance to my niece, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. A country cannot prosper, I told her unless all state organs are on the same page. She did not listen. But I still remain firm in my belief. The hardships of jail or the pleasures of the throne cannot make me change my mind.
Dear real rulers of the state,
I have always praised you and taken exception to any criticism levelled against you. But today I have one complaint. Why do you mete out the same treatment to your admirers as you do to your detractors?
The government must stop its politics of revenge and focus on the economic woes. The country should not be driven towards unrest. After the polls, we, the PML-N, wanted Imran Khan to be given a free hand. We wanted him to have the opportunity to implement his policies. We did not take the route of strikes and protests. But after my arrest, it is becoming clear that we may need to start the politics of agitation.
Are these measures only being taken to distract us from the government’s incompetence?
Dear real benefactors,
I write this today, neither for Imran Khan nor for the PML-N. I address you. Have you not internally praised my style of governance for ten years?
I did not show any aggression, not even when my brother and niece landed in Lahore. Had we tried to go to the airport that day, it could have caused problems for the interim government.
My peaceful and reconciliatory politics must be appreciated. The country must be allowed to move forward. If the politics of revenge is allowed to continue, then Pakistan will suffer. Let’s not forget that we are besieged with internal economic troubles and external threats.
This article originally appeared in the Daily Jang
Note: The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geo News or the Jang Group.