What’s cooking up on the political front?

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 03:43 PM, 22 Dec, 2021
What’s cooking up on the political front?
File photo.

The politics of the country is totally unpredictable. Anything can happen at any time without any prior visible signs. People are impatiently waiting for the likely changes on the political scene.  

Before the results of the first phase of Monday’s local elections in 17 districts of KP, the stronghold of the ruling PTI, important party leaders consistently claimed that Imran Khan will rule the country for another term after the 2023 elections. They claimed that the PTI will get a second consecutive term because of its marvellous performance in various fields.  

For example, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed has been insisting that Imran Khan will complete his mandated term at all costs. 

(Refuting the impression of his early departure, the leader from Rawalpindi has been using Punjabi words ‘Tun Kay puri karay ga” to make the statement more emphatic, powerful).  

After the first phase of local elections in KP, the PTI leaders feel embarrassed. But they are still hopeful that the situation will turn in their favour in the times ahead.    

However, indications coming from the PPP and PML-N, the two major opposition parties, paint a different shape of things to come. 

PPP supreme leader Asif Ali Zardari, who is also a former president, said at a ceremony in Hyderabad on Monday that the hotchpotch PTI government could not deliver and that he has been asked to offer assistance and share some formula (to set the situation right). But he told ‘them’ that first this (PTI) government should be sent packing and then talks could be held. 

Although Mr Zardari did not identify those who approached him and sought his help, it is clear that designers and architects of the power game were the ones he was referring to. 

It’s an open secret that nobody can dare name them but everyone knows who they are. 

The PPP leader expressed concern over the present situation Pakistan is facing.  

However, he said: “We have the best economic wizards and we have the ability to get rid of debt. “The longer they [rulers] stay in power the more difficulties will have to be faced to undo the wrong.” 

He said the PPP had taken care of Pakistan and would take care of it again. 

He blasted the NAB for its poor performance.  

“I had said earlier that if NAB (National Accountability Bureau) keeps working, this government will not work and today they [government] are running NAB and not the government,”  

“The country doesn’t need devaluation (of the rupee) and those talking about devaluation are fools and this has harmed the country,” he said. 

The former president’s disclosure made at a public meeting is even more significant. 

If his claim is to be trusted, the ‘selectors’ are not satisfied with the performance of the PTI government and they are now looking for alternatives. 

However, an important newspaper has quoted the defence sources as saying that Mr Zardari should name the person who had contacted him on behalf of the establishment and sought his help for a future setup. 

The source lamented that every now and then statements are made and hints are given about “deals” (with establishment) which is both unfortunate and irresponsible. 

If Zardari is truthful, he should name the person who had contacted him and sought his help, the source said. The source, holding an important position, said that the defence officials do not want to get engaged in any unnecessary debate with such politicians, who are issuing weird statements without any solid basis. 

Some people are of the view that Mr Zardari made the statement to convey an impression to the public at large that the future belongs to the PPP and it is for this reason that the establishment is contacting them. 

The PMLN, on the other hand, is telling a different story. 

Sources close to the London-based former prime minister Nawaz Sharif claim that important ‘people’ are approaching Mr Sharif for ‘help’. 

However, sources say, Mr Sharif has told the emissaries that anything short of free and fair fresh elections is not acceptable to him. 

Not only this, the sources claim, Mr Sharif wants the establishment to stop interfering in political matters and make a ‘public commitment’ that never ever in future will they exceed their jurisdiction.  

“Without this public commitment, nothing will move forward”, they insisted. 

The writer asked the sources how will it be possible for Mian Shehbaz Sharif to defend and propagate the narrative of his elder brother as it is completely different from his own thinking, the sources said the PML-N president was already meeting the requirements of the former prime minister’s narrative. 

The sources confirmed that Shehbaz Sharif will be the party’s candidate for the office of prime minister in the next elections. Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will be the candidate for National Assembly speaker and Hamza Shehbaz the Punjab chief minister. 

Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of the former prime minister, says although Shehbaz Sharif is a fatherly figure and also president of the PML-N, the decision on his candidature for the top office is to be taken by Mian Nawaz Sharif.   

Party sources say that although Maryam Nawaz is a capable leader and has a bright future, time is on her side and she can afford to wait for some more time for a greater role.  

Maryam, it may be recalled, is a convict and cannot contest the election. The sameis the status of Mian Nawaz Sharif. 

She has already challenged her conviction in the relevant court and proceedings on her petition are going on. However, nobody knows how long it will take the proceedings to conclude.  

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.