PML-N negotiates power with powerful but far from its conclusion
ISLAMABAD: A close relative of the PML-N leader, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, tweeted a couple of days ago. The information contained in it was no less than breaking news. “SKA [Shahid Khaqan Abbasi] opposition leader IA [Inshalallah] next week, “Farrukh Abbasi tweeted on February 2.
This sounded the alarms in the PML-N circles. The tweet was deleted after a few hours. You cannot determine if you were asked to delete or if you did it independently. However, it was not far-fetched information. As the party is negotiating power with power intermediaries, parallel proposals are being considered. Appointing Shahid as opposition leader is one of them. Background discussions with informed sources reveal that the leadership of the party has been in active contact with the agents of power. An important official flew to London two months ago to negotiate since governance goes from bad to worse. Several options were subject to deliberation. If there are changes at any level or going directly to the next election is a solution, they are two main options. According to the formula of change, the national government is considered an option with the main parties that have representation in it.
This is not going well with PML-N. For now, at least. Shehbaz Sharif is not ready to assume any role in the national government considering the fact that he cannot be an independent administrator in this environment. Rather, he suggested holding new elections. The point was noticed. In case immediate elections are not possible, who could be the party’s candidate for a key position? They Asked. It is said that Shahbaz promised to respond after having a consultation with Nawaz Sharif.
Later, he transmitted the name of Khawaja Asif. After a few days, Khawaja’s name was replaced by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as a candidate for the key position. In addition to the Center, the change in Punjab was also discussed with the important person who has visited London 2-3 times in a couple of months. Deep down, Shahbaz loved his son, Hamza, in Punjab, but the negotiator demanded names outside the Sharif family. Given that condition, the following three names were proposed in order: Malik Ahmed Khan, Rana Mashhood Ahmed and Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman.
Despite the parliaments, the PML-N leadership still has doubts about the way forward. Already discredited in the eyes of supporters due to the “unconditional support” he extended to the draft amendment approved by Parliament for the extension of the army chief, the leadership understands that it needs time to regain confidence. Being part of an internal change will solidify the impression that it is the result of an agreement, an impression that Nawaz did not want to create. Even more so due to the erosion of confidence in him that he had accumulated after facing many difficulties. Shahbaz Sharif, however, believes that returning to power will propel the party that cannot sit in opposition for a long period.
Maryam Nawaz is on the same page as her father. Instead of blaming him for the “unconditional support” decision on the draft amendment, she is shooting the messengers. Khawaja Asif, Rana Tanvir and Ayaz Sadiq carry the worst part of this decision together with Shahbaz Sharif. Shahid is your natural ally in this conflict. Nawaz camp plans to launch it as the face of resistance. He is also qualified for the role because he had abstained from voting the amendment bill by not appearing that day in the assembly despite the order of production of his release. Meetings of media people are aligning with him during the court appearance to portray him as the true representative of the PML-N ideology.
It is in this context that his name is promoted as opposition leader and Nawaz Sharif asked him to request the bail he had refused to seek until recently. He has requested it now and is likely to be released soon. The only obstacle against his release was the refusal to seek bail, since NAB could not establish charges against him. It remains to be seen whether Shahbaz submits to Shahid’s suggestion as his replacement in the National Assembly or not.
Deal or no deal? There are still many “yes” and “buts”. Both Sharifs do not want to participate in any internal change and for completely different reasons explained above. The midterm election is a preferred option for them. The elections will not only lead them to a stronger moral position, but they can also form the government of their choice.
Meanwhile, efforts are being made to launch a new game without Sharifs and Chaudhrys de Gujrat. Several old members of the Muslim League have been interviewed for this purpose. Given their political position, they are useless. However, it is not known what the alternative plan is in the minds of power brokers this time.