Three morale boosters & a depressant for PML-N
Tuesday (February 25) was a great day for the PML-N as the Islamabad High Court granted bail to two of its important leaders facing the National Accountability Bureau inquiries.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is accused of having struck a deal with Qatar for the purchase of LNG at much higher rates as a result of which the country would suffer, while former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal faces inquiry for misusing his power in the construction of a sports complex at Narowal, his hometown.
The court’s remarks before passing the release orders for the two PML-N leaders must be very embarrassing for the anti-corruption watchdog, headed by a former Supreme Court judge.
The same day former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s nephew Yousaf Abbas was set free from a Lahore jail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.
All these developments will serve as a morale booster for the PML-N which has been passing through difficult days because of the PTI-led coalition’s policies.
However, there is also bad news for the party as the Punjab government is opposed to Nawaz Sharif’s continued stay abroad on health grounds.
The government thinks that Mr Sharif’s health problem is not as serious as being projected. Therefore, the government plans to move the court to get him declared as a proclaimed offender because of his absence from the country since November last year. He had been granted bail on health grounds.
The provincial government is sending Mr Sharif’s medical reports to the federal government for a final decision about his stay abroad.
The government has already decided not to let Maryam Nawaz proceed abroad who wants to be with her ailing father in London during his treatment for multiple ailments. Mr Sharif had earlier cancelled a couple of his appointments with the doctor for certain procedures as his daughter had not reached London.
Now the London-based family is convinced that Maryam will not be allowed to leave the country and thus the father is mentally prepared to undergo the treatment without his daughter.
PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition Mian Shehbaz Sharif is already there to take care of his brother. Although government and PPP leaders are urging him to return home and play his role in the National Assembly, he has no plans to leave his elder brother unless his presence with him is required.
In such a situation the PML-N will have to fight on two fronts. It will have to counter the government’s propaganda and save the unity of the opposition – jeopardized by Bilawal Bhutto’s latest ‘revelation’ that like Imran Khan Mian Nawaz Sharif was also a “selected” prime minister.
The party is reacting very carefully for the sake of opposition parties’ unity. It knows that opposition’s disunity at this juncture would only serve the interests of the government.