Nawaz Sharif’s trepidation has finally reaped awards for Pakistan as the prime minister has been included in the nominees for the upcoming Nobel Peace Prize for his role in avoiding a nuclear war between Saudia Arabia and Qatar. Upon hearing the news, former American president Barack Obama remarked, “If I can win a peace prize while bombing thousands each year then why not him?”
“Why not him?” — a question the electoral pool has asked itself for 30 years.
“Why not him?” — the same dreaded words Pakistani parents say before rushing their daughters into an arranged marriage.
My relationship with Sharif is much like my relationship with my wife: it was arranged for me by her Islamic father, we both had little choice in the matter.
He may not have mass popularity, or any popularity, but Sharif is the hero we got. He may not look the part, he may not even be the hero we need, but he is the hero we deserve. He is not a superhero by any stretch of the imagination. Superheroes are a rarity in Pakistan in any case. The one we have, we use to sell soaps to children.
Just by reading his name you’ll know Sharif is a man who revels in the path of forbearance, fear and abstinence. If he wins he is a warrior, and if he loses he is what we call anyone who dies in the public eye in Pakistan: a shaheed. The great irony of Pakistan is that everybody wants to be a shaheed but nobody wants to die for it.
A Sharif in hand is worth two Georges in the Bush. America has repeatedly shown the perils of a trigger-happy president, they have never learned from their mistakes but the world can do better. Pakistan has gone a step further by electing a trigger-averse prime minister. Not only does he not want Pakistan to go to war, but he does not want any country to go to war. In this global conflict, Sharif is the little kid holding a lollipop asking the other children bent upon fighting, “Why can’t we be friends?”
As a Pakistani, Nawaz Sharif knows exactly what he needed to do when his business-family-refuge-providing friends started a war with his letter-writing-money-giving friends; the answer is nothing.
Think about it, we would never have war if everybody does nothing. If you just wait long enough to be rescued then eventually the war will end and you will be saved. He may not have Rapunzel’s hair but Sharif has always been rescued from the tower when all hope seemed lost — usually by a Qatari prince, or a Saudi prince, or a chocolate prince biscuit; even a princess has to eat.
Much like a man considering two marriage proposals at once, Sharif was equally non-committal when Saudi King Salman messaged him saying, “You up?” In an interesting twist of fate, Sharif is not even responding to the letters written to him by the Qataris. He was going to respond to the letter but he stopped because he thought writing “Faqat aap ka dost” at the end would be taking a clear position.
Despite the hate, the Twitter insults and the barrage of memes, Sharif has showed that he has staying power and he might be on the verge of global recognition for his ability to look busy, do nothing. It remains to be seen whether Maryam Nawaz will write his Nobel acceptance speech in a series of 140 character tweets or Shahbaz Sharif will hide in the rostrum and act like a live teleprompter.
Upon hearing of his nomination, Sharif sent a cheque to the Nobel committee to buy the prize. He followed it up by sending a letter to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressing the special place the country has in the hearts of Pakistanis and reaffirmed his strong commitment to the Kingdom. He changed “Saudi Arabia” to “Qatar” and then sent the same letter to Qatar. It is not plagiarism if you are copying yourself.
All Nawaz Sharif now needs to do is to avoid the five-member Qatar delegation that has come to Pakistan — his ministers have advised him to turn off all the lights at his house to make it seem like he’s not home. Frankly speaking, that has mainly been PMLN’s strategy for their entire tenure.
This is the first piece of the Herald's new satire series titled 'Newsbite'.
This was originally published in the Herald's July 2017 issue. To read more subscribe to the Herald in print.