July of two years ago was a devastating month for the Sharif family. Not only were the family members facing conviction on three counts of corruption but they were also bracing for the loss of Kulsoom Nawaz, the Prime Minister’s wife, who was battling cancer.
The facts are well known by the public. Under the Supreme Court Avenfield verdict, Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were served with ten and seven years of imprisonment respectively. The charge was simple: inability to account for assets outweighing legitimate income. Regrettably, however, Nawaz Sharif upheld his righteous position till the bitter end.
In a matter of weeks, the grand Sharif legacy collapsed in tatters.
With a tumultuous political career dating back to the 1980s, Nawaz Sharif had managed to attain immortalized status in the public’s eyes. He not only survived but also trumped all of the ‘greats’: the Bhuttos, Zia, Musharraf, Zardari. He successfully held enthusiastic pioneer Imran Khan at bay for years. Nawaz Sharif was captain and the PML-N was his very own great big ship.
That was then. Now people realize Pakistan was on a slippery slope, heading for destruction. The Sharifs were able to keep up the appearance of normality but to this day, we still don’t know the depth of the damage they caused. Moreover, this damage cannot simply be labelled “corruption”. Rather, it was a systematic unravelling of an entire system on all fronts – law enforcement, police, education, health, administration, and so on. Most importantly, it was not begun by Nawaz Sharif but set into motion long ago by his predecessors.
In July of 2018, Pakistan had new hope. Imran Khan was going to do better than everyone else. The echoing mantra “Sher Aya Sher Aya” finally went quiet. But that was then; this is now. We have not been fixed or reborn. Rather, we find ourselves in a new world with strange and unfamiliar obstacles, under a leader who no longer seems as much of a noble saviour as before.