News Analysis |
A change of heart was seen by the father/daughter duo at the Sangla rally on Saturday. Shifting from their standard anti-judiciary and anti-military stance, the Sharif family moved the focus of their fire to their political rivals: Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari. Nawaz Sharif has adopted an anti-judiciary stance ever since his disqualification by the Supreme Court on 28th July 2017. He has been claiming that he will restore the sanctity of the vote, and the rule of law. Sharif was supported wholeheartedly by his daughter Maryam Nawaz in their anti-judiciary/military rhetoric.
However, the rally held at Sangla hill on Sunday displayed a wholly different side of Nawaz and Maryam who didn’t utter a single remark against the state institutions and restricted themselves to criticizing only the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). Their focus remained on the 12th March Senate Chairmanship elections in which the PPP and PTI supported an independent candidate from Balochistan, Mir Sadiq Sanjrani, and defeated the PML-N nominated candidate.
The 2018 general elections are only a few months away; if the PML-N wants to have any chances in the upcoming elections, they’ll have to abandon the politics of confrontation and show restraint while giving public speeches.
“They are bhai bhai (brothers). Those (who were) yesterday calling each other thief and corrupt have joined hands because of the fear of Nawaz Sharif,” the former premier iterated to the rally. He further accused them of failing to deliver results in their respective governments and highlighted the performance of his own government. Maryam joined his father in rebuking the two rival parties and warned that, “If you vote for PTI, it will go to the PPP and vice versa.” Surprisingly, Nawaz’s nephew Hamza also gave a speech in that rally and declared that Nawaz was still his Prime Minister.
Read more: Nawaz Sharif disqualified once again!
A day before the Sangla rally, the new party president of PML-N and younger brother of Nawaz, Mian Shehbaz Sharif addressed a rally at Choti Zareen and apparently set the tone of Nawaz’s Sangla rally. Shehbaz stated that, “All institutions are respectable and I appeal to the judiciary, Pakistan Army and parliament to jointly work to meet the challenges being faced by the country.” It appears that Shehbaz has asked his brother and sister to refrain from attacking state institutions. The presence of Hamza Shehbaz at the Sangla rally further reinforces this speculation.
Interestingly, the disgruntled senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has also advised his ‘Quaid’ to refrain from attacking either the military or the judiciary during a press conference outside his Taxila residence. “My point of view is that PML-N should not come into confrontation with state institutions but find a way out, and I have repeated this viewpoint several times. My difference is on the basis of principles since the politics is the game of principles,” he asserted. Nisar claimed that the party can only get relief from the Supreme Court.
A change of heart was seen by the father/daughter duo at the Sangla rally on Saturday. Shifting from their standard anti-judiciary and anti-military stance, the Sharif family moved the focus of their fire to their political rivals.
The former Interior Minister has always been known to be at odds with the Sharif family leadership, mainly with Mian Nawaz Sharif. After his disqualification by the SC, Nisar chose to stay away from the party leadership. It was reported that he supported Shehbaz Sharif as the next Prime Minister after Nawaz and was part of the pro-Shehbaz group. Last week, he reprimanded the interior ministry for not placing the name of Nawaz Sharif on the Exit Control List (ECL).
Read more: Nawaz Sharif hoping to transform Sindh “if given the chance”
Many political experts believe that Shehbaz was favoured by the establishment to become the next leader of the PML-N. He has always refrained from attacking the judiciary and the military, and maintained that all institutes should be respected. Since Nawaz has apparently lost all actual power within the PML-N, it was expected that the change would be observed within the party ranks and this appears to be a first step towards that change. Even though Nawaz is still the party ‘Quaid’, he doesn’t have any real power in the party other than public support.
According to a number of media analysts, the fall of Balochistan government, the anomalies in the Senate elections and the loss of Senate chairmanship have taught PML-N in specific and all political parties in general that their future would be rough if they don’t show respect to the judiciary. The 2018 general elections are only a few months away; if the PML-N wants to have any chances in the upcoming elections, they’ll have to abandon the politics of confrontation and show restraint while giving public speeches. Street agitation would further slant Pakistan’s road to becoming a true democracy.