09 March 2016

Pakistan’s prime minister is defying the clerics — very carefully

During a speech to international business leaders here in late November, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shocked the country’s powerful religious community by calling for a new, more “liberal” Pakistan.

Amid an outcry, within hours, Sharif’s staff was playing down the speech, saying he didn’t really mean to imply Pakistan should become more like the West.

But so far this year, Sharif and his party have defied Islamic scholars by unblocking access to YouTube, pushing to end child marriage, enacting a landmark domestic violence bill, and overseeing the execution of a man who had become a symbol of the hatred that religion can spawn here.

The shift in tone can be traced to Sharif’s ambitious economic agenda, the influence his 42-year-old daughter has over him, and his awareness that Pakistan remains the butt of jokes, according to his friends, senior government officials and analysts. [The Washington Post] Read more