Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, known as establishment’s man, said on Thursday that just a month before the General Elections 2018, two renowned journalists approached him with a message regarding his chances of becoming the next prime minister.
The PML-N leader, in an interview with an Urdu daily, claimed that a month before the July election, names of potential cabinet members were being finalized in his meetings with ‘powerful circles’.
The establishment’s man said that his relations with the Chaudhries of PML-Q are almost neutral. He said that there are no feelings of enmity between them anymore but there’s no talk of any joint political strategy with them as yet.
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When asked to comment on whether his return is part of any deal, Shehbaz said when he heard about the closure of international flights to and from Pakistan due to the coronavirus pandemic, he telephoned Nawaz Sharif and informed him that he must go back to Pakistan.
Establishment’s blue-eyed man?
GVS recently reported that Shehbaz Sharif has reportedly successfully convinced the establishment to be accommodated within the existing political setup.
یہ بہت بڑی خام خیالی ہے کہ شہباز شریف اگر ن لیگ کوالیکشن میں لے کر جائیں تو وہ الیکشن جیت جائیں گے، نواز شریف اگر اپنی بیمار بیگم کو لندن میں چھوڑ کر نہ آتے تو الیکشن نتائج بہت مختلف ہوتے ۔۔۔۔ عارف نطامی@paktoday #PMLN #shehbazSharif #NawazSharif https://t.co/zfpD5g5ilb
— Siasat.pk (@siasatpk) May 1, 2020
Shehbaz is known for his pro-establishment in his party; hence, always treated as establishment’s man. There have been some reports suggesting his differences with Nawaz and Maryam over the nature of the party’s relationship with the country’s powerful establishment.
Maryam was leading a segment of the party with the slogan of ‘vote ko izzat do.’ She slammed the establishment for political engineering and getting favorable verdicts from courts. However, later on, Shehbaz’s approach appeared to have prevailed as the party not only offered unconditional support to amend the law to give extension in service to the Army Chief but also Maryam went silent.
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Moreover, some reports also claim that Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) Ch. Pervez Elahi has also some reservations after developing some differences with the prime minister. In this backdrop, a few days ago Khwaja Saad Rafique and Khwaja Salman Rafique held an important meeting with Pervaiz Elahi at his residence.
The meeting was apparently a courtesy call but analysts believe that it was formal initiation of efforts to replace the existing political order in the country. Importantly, Khwaja brothers held a meeting with the party president Shahbaz Sharif one day before meeting Elahi.
“Shehbaz Sharif is the establishment’s, next blue-eyed man. PM Imran is likely to remain in his seat but Shehbaz is certain to have an invisible role to reorganize his party to become a new force in Punjab,” a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told GVS.
Analysts in Islamabad are mulling over the question; Is PM Imran and his government aware of what is going on in national politics?
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However, some analysts believe that “PPP and PML-N are looking for some relief and concession, not for government or ‘more’ power. Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari are not interested to lead the country. At this moment of history, they want NAB (National Accountability Bureau) to be restrained in order to live a life with dignity. Hence, why will the establishment invite Shahbaz or Bilawal to form a government when there is no reason to do so?”