The cruelty in Pakistan over Nawaz Sharif’s health

Columnist  | Irfan Husain

Opinion, Op Ed

It is this last attitude that had probably motivated the government into preventing Nawaz Sharif from seeking medical treatment abroad.

Nawaz Sharif.

Some cruel little boys torment insects by pulling out their wings. Once a video went viral showing a young French Algerian torturing a cat. He was arrested and jailed. Occasionally, these nasty tendencies remain part of a person’s character, and inflicting suffering gives him a perverse pleasure. Others think this viciousness is part of their job of controlling those in their power.

It is this last attitude that had probably motivated the government into preventing Nawaz Sharif from seeking medical treatment abroad. The whole business of demanding an outrageous surety bond of `7 billion reeks of ransom.

Just as we have a duopoly of power between a seemingly elected government and the security establishment, the government appears to share authority with the judiciary. Thus, even though the legal process to enable Sharif to leave the country has been completed, he has run into a tangle of red tape spun by NAB and the Cabinet. Nobody appears to accept responsibility for his release and travel abroad.

Clearly, this case is a hot potato, but somebody needs to step up as Sharif is far too ill to be treated like a political football. (The Lahore high court on November 16 ordered the Imran Khan government to remove Nawaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List.) Many in the government and the so-called punditry pooh-pooh Sharif’s medical condition as minor, and as a ploy to escape the many legal cases he faces. I just hope they never suffer from this ailment. Although I’m no doctor, I, too, have a low platelet count (though mercifully not as low as Sharif’s), and can attest to the fatigue and energy loss this causes.

While we sink deeper into the hole we have dug for ourselves, the establishment remains the elephant in the room. But despite our many reservations about this controversial institution, it remains an essential bond that’s holding the country together.

There remains no consensus on our direction and goals, and no effort at building one. This government, with its narrow agenda of vendetta and vindictiveness, seems incapable of addressing the huge problems that face the country. A leader with an open mind and a big heart would have been more generous to his political rivals to bring them closer. But Imran Khan’s arrogant and perpetually angry temperament excludes such a possibility. A depressing sign of his intolerance is evident in the ongoing crackdown on the media. His comment that our media is freer than its British counterpart would have been laughable had it not been so ridiculous. TV interviews are pulled off the air in midstream, and some anchors banned.

Welcome to the New Pakistan.

By arrangement with Dawn