Who will decide Sharifs' future political role?
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The passage of the mini-budget, irrespective of its long-term implications for national interest and the factors that played a role to make it possible, has established that for the time being the ruling coalition enjoys the majority’s support in the 342-member National Assembly.
The outcome also means that the opposition parties, determined to bring about a change in the government through a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, will have to review their strategy at the January 25 meeting to get the desired results.
But what is more astonishing is what was published by a credible newspaper on Saturday (January 15).
It says: “The federal capital’s worst kept secret this month was that the opposition had quietly agreed to let the bill pass. All political stakeholders had been communicated that returning to the IMF fold was a strategic necessity at this point in time. None had disagreed.”
The question is if the opposition parties were to agree to let the bill pass then what was the justification for their vociferous public stance against it.
The assertions that all political stakeholders had been “communicated” that returning to the IMF fold was a strategic necessity at this point in time, and that none had disagreed says it all.
The shift in the attitude of the opposition in such a situation is understandable.
But one may ask that if they could not resist the pressure on a matter of such great national importance, how it will be possible for them to take on the government in future?
What if they were told by the same quarters that they should let the government function?
After the bill’s adoption, another development has taken place.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed says all four members of the Sharif family have no role in the country’s politics.
Talking to journalists, although he did not name anyone, it was clear that he was referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz.
Needless to point out that the politics of the PML-N revolves around these people. And if they have no role to play, nobody else in the party can replace them and keep the party united, popular.
Everybody knows whose language Sheikh Rasheed speaks.
What the interior minister said raises questions about the policy of the government about the former prime minister in particular and other Sharifs in general.
His assertion that it makes no difference whether the former prime minister returns home or not is in conflict with the earlier claims that the government is making all efforts to bring him back.
As for the sweeping statement that all Sharifs have no role to play in politics, it is beyond his competence.
It is for the courts to decide what is in store for them.
Shehbaz and Hamza, although facing many cases instituted by the NAB, have not been convicted so far.
Out of the government, there is no role more important than the father and son have been playing for the past three years. One is the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and the other performs the same function in the Punjab Assembly.
They have repeatedly claimed that not a single penny of corruption has been proved against them.
As for the future of the former prime minister and his daughter it will also be decided by courts.
True that at present they stand disqualified, they are exploring all avenues to find room for themselves.
Unless their pleas are dismissed by the highest court of law, the interior minister’s assertion will be premature, beyond jurisdiction.