ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: An impending political upheaval following the joint investigation team report against ruling Sharif family over their illegal offshore properties has worried India and threatens to create new security complications for the neighbouring country.
According to Times of India, if the Supreme Court implements the JIT report and sends PM Sharif packing or the premier loses authority to rule in any case, “this could have implications for India in the coming weeks and months, particularly in the security sphere.”
But while the loss of Sharif is unlikely to strike a blow at bilateral ties, a change of regime at this time might mean that there will be new players in Islamabad, too new to matter, leaving the job of governance and foreign policy to the army brass in Rawalpindi, fears India.
The JIT has charged the ruling family with perjury, having disproportionate income and living beyond their means. It said Sharif failed to satisfactorily answer most of the questions put to him during his appearance before investigators on June 15.
“He was generally evasive and seemed preoccupied during the interview. Major part of his statement was based on hearsay,” the report said, adding that Sharif remained non-committal, speculative and at times non-cooperative while recording his statement. The report further said Sharif tried to “parry most of the questions” by giving indefinite answers or by stating that “he does not remember, ostensibly to conceal facts”.
According to the Indian paper: “Any move against Sharifs would result in the most obvious coup-like situation, bringing the army back on the frontline of governance, and its unclear whether it would want that. In addition, Sharif ‘s patrons in Saudi Arabia might not look too kindly on that, and it would certainly play badly in the US…”
Sharif and his party, PML(N), remain defiant in the face of the opposition’s call for his ouster, with the ruling party vowing to challenge the report.
However, the dominant opinion holds that JIT’s findings have severely weakened Sharif’s position by cutting his avenues of deniability, something which can be a source of worry for India. The outcome of the Sharif investigation and the resultant instability holds out the old red flags -that when Pakistan goes through a crisis, turning the spotlight on India and Kashmir might be a tempting answer.
The report says the government circles in New Delhi seem to agree as they brace for what might turn out to be possible post-Sharif scenarios.