Editorial of Dawn. PM may like to take some hints.


In the unfortunate political history of this country, there have been many ill-advised speeches to the nation by political and military leaders. But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears determined to set something of a record for civilian leaders who, flanked by the national flag and seated under a picture of the Quaid, have used national television to make personal and thoroughly un-statesmanlike speeches. Twice now in recent weeks, the prime minister has addressed the nation on television, leaving a host of unanswered and grim questions in his wake. The most obvious question is: whatever has happened to the platform of parliament? So unused is the prime minister`s dispatch box in the National Assembly that it appears that he is allergic to it. Never one to fail to remind his audience that he is a thrice-elected prime minister, Mr Sharif appears to hold the very chamber that has elected him as prime minister each time in the lowest regard.

Then there are the questions about the contents of his two most recent speeches. Mercifully, on Friday the prime minister did not at least return to his very personal anguish at the damage caused to his family businesses decades ago. Three weeks ago, the sad tale of a businessman trying to do good by his country and his good intentions being spurned by the republic was a bizarrely indulgent prime ministerial performance. But on Friday, there was no lack of other personal-political history and some rather astonishing attacks on political enemies. Alternating between innuendo and direct verbal assaults, Mr Sharif`s comments would have been unseemly at a political rally. Made from the platform of an address-to-the nation broadcast by state television and carried simultaneously by news channels across the country, the speech was not just a political travesty it transgressed the very norms of decent, democratic debate that the prime minister accused his political enemies of crossing.

Finally, there are the questions about what the prime minister should have said on Friday. To call for a judicial commission simply because that has been a section of the opposition`s demand is an inadequate response. If the prime minister`s actions are to match the tone and tenor of his words, there is an obvious thing that can and should be done: declare pre-emptively all his assets and those of his family, at home and abroad, and produce a detailed account of what was acquired when and where and through which proceeds. A full, detailed and scrupulously compiled declaration of assets regardless of what the letter of the law requires in whichever jurisdictions, inside Pakistan and abroad should surely not be above the elected prime minister of a democratic nation. Moreover, a full prime ministerial disclosure will force others to follow Mr Sharif`s example, helping deliver the cleaner politics the prime minister says he wants.

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