Monday, September 10, 2007

Nawaz Sharif Sent Packing

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was suppose to make a grand return to Pakistan, made possible by a favorable Supreme Court ruling, but was immediately sent packing upon his arrival. He’s back in Jeddah now, finishing up the remaining term of his exile (10 years). And just to make sure he stays there, Saudi Arabia has confiscated his passport.

Nevertheless, one must appreciate the irony of the situation. Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that Nawaz Sharif could return to Pakistan forthwith. This is the same Supreme Court Sharif, then Prime Minister, treated with such contempt when he allowed his minions to storm the court and ransack it in an attempt to intimidate the justices. That someone like Sharif would champion the Supreme Court’s ruling is too delicious an irony to ignore.

At the same time, sadly, it is another body blow for the rule of law in Pakistan. In the space of a few months, we have seen a Chief Justice removed and, just as quickly, restored. Now we see the government thumbing its noses at the court—yet again. It would be a comedy if it weren’t such a tragedy.

Lastly, there’s clear-cut collusion between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that is not being reported. Even with the Supreme Court ruling, Saudi Arabia insisted that Nawaz Sharif serve out his exile. Why the Saudis would do this is unclear unless there was some prodding by President Musharraf, whose position greatly weakened, wanted to short-circuit the Supreme Court’s ruling without appearing like, well, a dictator. Too late for that, I guess.