Change of face or policy in PML-N?

By Tanveer Ahmed
Sunday – March 4, 2018
KARACHI: What future lies ahead after the mantle of Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) passed from Mian Nawaz Sharif to his younger brother and chief minister (CM) of the most populous province of Pakistan, Mian Shahbaz Sharif?

This is something interesting and much-talked about subject on national media and in the entire width and breadth of country.

Former prime minister (PM) Mian Nawaz Sharif, who is passing through the agony after disqualification as PM some 6 months back and party president recently is seemingly at warpath with the State institutions particularly the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), which he openly lambasted for being ‘unjust’ to him when gave its verdict in Panama-gate scandal.

Mian Nawaz can be critical about the decisions of the apex court and the way the proceedings against him are being conducted in the national accountability bureau (NAB) court on corruption charges, but he was left with no option but to leave the presidentship of the party and hand it over to his younger brother, Mian Shahbaz Sharif.

Although it is a glaring example of “dynastic politics and family fiefdom” and clearly suggests that how the political parties are controlled in this country of two hundred million ill-fated people, but no one can escape from this reality since major political parties are infested with this evil.

After the dislodging of Mian Nawaz Sharif as PM under a supreme court verdict, the ruling party has worn the colours of defiance, not in its entire ranks but in certain elements.

The party seemingly divided in two camps – “hawks and doves”. The ‘hawks’ in the party are led by Mariam Nawaz – daughter of Mian Nawaz Sharif with the blessing of Mian Sahab. This group is openly indulged in criticism of the apex court decision and occasionally hurl threats to the court in public.

Karachi-based PML-N leader Nihal Hashmi, who got elected as member of Senate on PML-N ticket swung into action much before the verdict against Mian Nawaz was made in Panama case.

Hashmi had to face the wrath of the court for openly threatening it in “contempt of court” case. Hashmi, now out of jail after serving one-month imprisonment, must be a changed man as he after his release from jail targeted NAB instead of the apex court.

This “change of mind” is not unusual when we see activism in judicial corridor in recent times. The other hawks – Talal Chaudhry and Danial Aziz – also fall in line, who are allegedly bent upon ridiculing the judiciary and now their fate will be determined by the court itself, which is hearing their case for allegedly indulging in the contempt of court.

The ‘hawks’ are building up their narrative that it will help to gather the public’s sympathy for winning the next elections. Obviously, PML-N is eying the next general polls and might pursue this narrative to grab maximum number of votes in Pakistan in general and in its power-base Punjab in particular; but the situation on ground is turning grimmer for them as far as the verdicts coming out against the PML-N leadership are concerned.

First, Mian Nawaz Sharif was deprived of coveted office of PM of the country and then lost the party’s highest post. Criticising judiciary for their misdeeds in the past when they took oath under martial regime is a ploy, which PML-N’s hawks might be using to malign the judiciary, but has not paid off so far.

This harsh stance yields any dividend; only future will determine.

The ‘doves,’ on the other hand, believed to be headed by Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif thinks otherwise.

In their belief, the chequered political history of the country reveals a different story, altogether. In a confrontation with the other organs of State, political governments always proved to be loser and this very reality of the past is scaring Shahbaz-led camp.

Shahbaz Sharif would have never told brother Mian Nawaz Sharif in categorical terms, ostensibly out of respect for being younger that confrontation with the State institutions will be a counter-productive game.

However, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan – an old-time companion of Nawaz Sharif and stalwart of party – minced no words when he spoke on criticism of certain leaders of ruling party against SCP’s decision in Panama case.

Nisar – often dubbed as an arrogant man by his political rivals – however knows well the art of keeping at good terms the “real powers” in the country.

Nisar also advised, a number of times that an open confrontation will lead towards inviting more troubles for the party and even distanced himself from the party meetings where judiciary came under severe criticism.

Nisar’s views are consonance with the approach of Shahbaz Sharif, who always proved to be a hard-nut for the political rivals, adopted flexible posture when it came to dealing with the powerful establishment of the country.

Shahbaz Sharif has been crowned as the acting president of the party and being tipped as the next PM if PML-N swoops the polls later this year.

Though Mian Nawaz Sharif is quaid (patron-in-chief) and will be exerting his authority to push the party towards adopting a harder approach towards the judiciary in line with his scheme of things; how, Shahbaz Sharif will be able to influence the party’s ranks and files that will not annoy the “powers behind the scene” as well as comforting the hawks, one needs to keep the fingers crossed to see as to what comes out from the unfolding future.

The writer is a political analyst and can be reached at:

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