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In an attempt to conduct, what has now become known as ‘mukh mukha’ politics, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with property magnate Malik Riaz in a bid to secure the support of the former president and co-chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, as he and his family are grappling with corruption references. The meeting on Thursday 28 September, took place in Nawaz’s Jati Umra residence was attended by Shahbaz Sharif and lasted for two hours.

Malik Riaz is a close associate of Asif Ali Zardari; it is widely believed that Riaz gifted Zardari, Bilawal House in Bahria Town, Lahore. Though his ties with the Sharif family have not been cordial, efforts have been made to mend them several times; the last when Riaz offered to build the Ashiana Housing Scheme in Lahore, which was turned down by the Punjab government. Since the change of government in 2013, Malik Riaz, the property tycoon behind Bahria Town schemes, has focused his business energies also in Karachi, successfully launching the  Bahria Town project in Karachi. Development which had started in Islamabad, Bahria Enclave project during the PPP government in 2008-13, has come to a near standstill. His disappearance from the Islamabad scene was said to be because of bad relations between him and a PML-N senior politician.

The process of uniting PPP and PML-N will be hastened by the move to evict Khurshid Shah as the opposition leader. An Imran-led opposition is least desired for both the parties

The PML-N has chosen not to talk on the matter, but speculations are rife that Nawaz wants PPP’s support to bail himself out from political and legal troubles which have exacerbated ever since the initiation of NAB references.

Malik Riaz tweeted that he went to inquire about Kulsoom Nawaz’s health and was not involved in any political discussions.

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Nawaz is worried about the PTI attempt to change the opposition leader, Khursheed. Shah, in Parliament, especially when the NAB chairperson is due to be changed early next month. As a result, Riaz has been approached to mediate between PPP and PML-N.

Imran Khan has categorically said he will turn against Zardari’s corruption after fully ensuring the end of Sharif’s dynastic politics

Imran Khan has time and again said that both Nawaz and Zardari are brother in arms and go all the way to protect each other’s corruption. Sources suggest Nawaz has called upon Speaker National Assembly, Ayaz Sadiq, to thwart these efforts.

Imran Khan has categorically said he will turn against Mr. Zardari’s corruption after fully ensuring the end of Sharif family’s dynastic politics. Both parties hence have a reason to join hands. Asif Zardari who earlier said that he will not come to Nawaz’s rescue may change his plan.

In a quest to put weight behind the appointment of the new NAB chief and the next caretaker setup, the PTI is trying to supplant PPP’s Khurshid Shah from his slot of opposition leader

Imran Khan’s, relentless anti-corruption drive against Nawaz and Zardari frightens the political leadership in both parties.  In addition, PPP’s clout over the fast-dwindling vote bank from Punjab is another reason for it to support the PML-N. However, by far, the most important reason for both teams to unite, is the need to resist the new accountability drive in the country. PPP and PML-N will try to have a weak Chairman NAB and a supportive caretaker setup.

Read more: Khawaja Asif expects India and Pakistan to respect Indus Water Treaty

The process of uniting PPP and PML-N will be hastened by the move to evict Khurshid Shah as the opposition leader. A PTI-led opposition is least desirable for both parties. It is reasonable to expect some kind of a united front being developed very soon in a bid to “save democracy”. Malik Riaz with his financial muscle is an ideal go-between particularly when the crunch time beckons.

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