Islamic country intervened but rebuffed by Washington – Nawaz fails in getting US support against Imran Khan
WASHINGTON’S political and security establishment was recently approached by an Islamic country, a dear friend of Pakistan, to try and help Nawaz Sharif in the UK as he has launched an aggressive campaign against Pakistan’s security establishment.
The move was made before President Trump got Covid-19 and moved to the hospital. There was little appetite in the State Department for any such intervention but some wanted to send an envoy to London to see Mr Sharif and discuss matters, probably to dissuade him. Then the idea was dropped and the Islamic friend was told Washington did not want to get involved.
A former Pakistan envoy in Washington also got hints and offered his services but he was also rebuffed, credible sources involved in such interactions told me.
Naturally the decision by the State Department was in line with the US policy as Washington is deeply involved in a complex situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is playing a key role. The Special envoy shuttling between Kabul, Islamabad and Washington and meeting Taliban leaders in Qatar, Zalmay Khalilzad recently praised Pakistani efforts to help remove obstacles in the Afghan dialogue.
The rebuff to Nawaz Sharif was obvious and whoever advised him to try this avenue must be naive as Washington and President Trump are deeply involved in several domestic crises, personal, political and economic.
With just under four weeks to go for his re-election, Trump and his White House caught the virus and when he was shifted to a hospital at least 15 others reported positive and everyone faced a huge embarrassment. Polls started showing he was behind his rival Joe Biden by more than 10 to 14 percentage points. In a rush of blood Trump also suspended all talks with Democrats to give another stimulus package to Americans. The stocks plunged and many things happened.
In such a mess, Nawaz Sharif or his advisers wanted Trump to help him against the Pakistan Army, which is the most critical player in Afghan talks with the Taliban. It was simply stupid.
When I contacted Prime Minister Imran Khan to comment on this move by Nawaz, his curt and quick response was that he had all the proof of what Nawaz was doing in London and significantly he said “if any outside one had even tried to approach him (on behalf of Nawaz) he would have got a real tongue lashing.”
So after the door of GHQ was slammed on PML-N by the ISPR, when ex-governor Zubair Omer met the Army Chief to discuss Nawaz and Maryam, another important door was shut in Washington.
But my sources say the decision makers in Washington are slightly concerned about the Opposition programs to hit the streets and especially about the leading role given by major parties PML-N and PPP to Maulana Fazlur Rahman.
The Americans think Maulana Fazal is more dangerous for the Afghan dialogue as he had been the mentor and teacher of Taliban leaders for years and still holds some influence on their ranks. If he started playing dirty, the American efforts could be hurt.
So as against coming out to help Nawaz, there are quiet efforts to convince the opposition alliance to cut short the role of Maulana Fazal and this would become more evident as differences and cracks in the PDM become wider. Some parties like the ANP have already rejected his leadership.
Fazlur Rahman has been given the leading role by two major parties because they lack street power although they have good numbers in both the houses of parliament. The Maulana has raw student power of religious schools, which he demonstrated in his 2019 Islamabad show.