Sharif ouster leaves power vacuum

The ousting of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court has left a power vacuum at the top of the nuclear-armed country, yet experts say that in the long run, it is unlikely to be destabilising.

Mr. Sharif’s disqualification that came after a probe into his family’s wealth following the 2016 Panama Papers revelations linking his family to offshore companies denies him the chance of becoming the country’s first Prime Minister to complete a full five-year term. Yet, despite the country’s history of military rule, power will likely remain within the hands of a civilian government — and probably that of Mr. Sharif’s eponymous Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, analysts say.

‘Will fall in place’

“In a country as volatile as Pakistan, there’s good reason to be concerned whenever a Prime Minister is dismissed,” said Michael Kugelman of the DC-based Wilson Centre. “But my sense is that everything will eventually fall into place — a successor will be chosen and the current government will serve out its term,” he said.

Pakistan has been roiled by military coups and instability for much of its 70-year history. But recently, there has been a surge of optimism in the militancy-plagued developing country, which has seen a dramatic improvement in security and positive economic growth in recent years.

Political analyst Hasan Askari said Pakistan’s parliamentary system of government remains unshaken despite the Supreme Court’s ousting of a democratically-elected Premier. “. At the moment, we can say the first impact of the judgment has not proved to be destabilising,” he said.

With Pakistan just a year away from general elections, the question is whether the country’s Opposition parties can capitalise on Mr. Sharif’s removal.

Opposition leader Imran Khan has breathlessly pounded his party’s anti-graft slogans and called for Mr. Sharif's removal as his slow downfall has played out on Pakistan's TV news channels over the last year.

But his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which governs one of Pakistan’s four provinces, has so far failed to turn itself into a national party.

“(It is PTI) that initiated the case against the Prime Minister, therefore they are going to be the major beneficiary in terms of reputation and credibility,” said Askari. But, he cautioned, the party would benefit most from early elections.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 10:44:05 PM |

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