Fissures in PML-N becoming visible
A few days ago, PML-N President and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly hosted a sumptuous dinner for the PDM leaders, with the main target of persuading the PPP and the ANP to rejoin the eight-month-old opposition alliance that had been set up to oust the PTI government.
After the dinner, the media reported that although the PPP and the ANP had joined the dinner, though not through the real invitees, those who represented their respective parties had sought time to take a decision on becoming a part of the opposition’s coalition once again.
Both these parties had parted ways with the PDM after they had been issued show-cause notices by the alliance secretary-general - Shahid Khakan Abbasi – for pursuing policies inconsistent with the alliance policy.
At a party meeting, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tore the show-cause notices into pieces and parted ways with the PDM, asserting that he was not answerable to anyone except his own party. This dealt a serious blow to the opposition bloc as the PPP was its second largest constituent.
The “volcanic” reaction established beyond doubt that the PPP was least interested in rejoining the alliance, which it had conceived and launched for riddance from the PTI government.
The ANP also took a similar decision, after which the PML-N and the JUI-F were the only major parties left in the PDM.
However, on Tuesday PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz caused serious embarrassment to her uncle Shehbaz Sharif when she said that the dinner hosted by the PML-N president had nothing to do with the PDM’s politics.
As for the possibility of the PPP returning to the PDM’s fold, she said the party should first answer the show cause and then the matter of them rejoining the alliance would be looked into.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former prime minister and vice president of the PML-N, said the PDM’s doors have been closed for the PPP and in case it was re-inducted in the alliance, the coalition would have to look for a new secretary general, a post being held by him at present.
This was a clear message that Shehbaz Sharif’s efforts to persuade the PPP or the ANP back into the alliance were not tolerable for him.
His stand on the subject was similar to that of Maryam. And this is not the first time similarity of thought between Maryam and Khaqan has been witnessed.
While Mian Nawaz Sharif and Maryam have the same opinion on all matters, Shahid Khaqan is a true follower of the father and daughter.
Interestingly, PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s stance about the possibility of the PPP and the ANP returning to the alliance’s fold is even harsher.
He has been quoted as saying that the PPP had torn apart the show cause; now it should piece together the show cause, read it again and come up with an appropriate reply. Otherwise, he made it clear there was no room for the PPP and the ANP in the alliance.
Also, he said the two parties should apologise for taking a hasty decision on parting ways with the PDM.
At this juncture the question is not whether the PPP and the ANP rejoin the alliance or not; the question is of the status of Mian Shehbaz Sharif in the PML-N and his say in the PDM as head of the coalition’s biggest constituent.
As a matter of principle, Shehbaz Sharif’s initiative to bring the estranged PPP and ANP back to the PDM should have been appreciated by all alliance leaders. But he had to face embarrassment at the hands of the party.
While all others are convinced that Maryam is the real spokesperson of her father (and Khaqan is a true follower), Bilawal is the only leader who has said in unequivocal terms that Shehbaz alone represents the party and that his opinion would be given weightage.
In view of the above-mentioned facts, Shehbaz Sharif is passing through a situation that he can’t express his real sentiment in public. Although he doesn’t agree with the policies of his elder brother, he can’t afford to bring on record his points of disagreement and their reasons. He is convinced that his elder brother’s thinking will push the party into a darker future, but he can’t dare say it on record.
The PML-N supremo’s latest assertion at a party meeting he addressed through video-link that only one narrative should be emphasised will make it more difficult for Shehbaz to repeat his point of view about politics of conciliation.
Likewise, his hidden strong desire to make Chaudhry Nisar part of the PML-N has been aborted by Maryam, who said while talking to reporters that the leader from Chakri had nothing to do with the party.
Superfluous to point out that every party tries to bring the best people into its fold, while Nisar Ali Khan is not an ordinary being.
But since Nisar is an irritant for Nawaz, Shehbaz in spite of being the party president, finds himself completely helpless.
In this situation the scope for Shehbaz Sharif is very narrow. He is supposed to defend the hawkish narrative of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif despite the fact he himself is a man of conciliation and wants good relations with the establishment.
He is just a titular head of the party, while the shots are being called by Maryam.
Not many people remember that Shehbaz Sharif ad Nisar Ali Khan have been the best friends. There was a time when they had decided to work as prime minister and Punjab chief minister, respectively.
However, much water has flown under the political bridges and there is little possibility of their dream coming true in the foreseeable future.
The former prime minister will like his daughter to don the mantle of prime minister, relegating his younger brother to some other role.
Nisar stands no future unless he joins some important party.
Although he is a good friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan, kinship doesn’t matter in kingship.