- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Arnaud de Borchgrave’s Jan. 6 column “Catch-22 in Pakistan” (Commentary) has come as a surprise and a disappointment to me and countless other Pakistanis. Having been a regular reader of Mr. de Borchgrave’s perceptive pieces over the past decades - many written after visits to Pakistan - we expected him to be more objective.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is the leader of the most popular political party in Pakistan today - the PML-N - which, by all accounts, would win the next elections hands-down whenever they are held. His popularity is based not on any anti-American stance, but on hard-core principles and policies that he has followed consistently throughout his two tenures in government as prime minister and ever since returning from exile in 2007.

Mr. Sharif’s bold economic reforms of privatization, liberalization and deregulation, introduced in 1990-91, brought a paradigm shift in the national economy and introduced Pakistan on the world map as an economically progressive country. These reforms were later emulated by India. It makes no sense to assume that a popular leader who initiated bold economic reforms would follow socially regressive policies.

Mr. Sharif is recognized both domestically and internationally as a leader whose commitment to democracy and refusal to countenance any extraconstitutional measure to destabilize the current government is keeping the democratic system in place. This policy could not have been advocated by a politician who believes in “bloody revolution.”

RAOOF HASAN

Islamabad, Pakistan