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PML-N’s House on Fire

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Khawaja Dawood Tariq | 

Accountability court Islamabad on Tuesday issued bailable arrest warrants for Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar. A day earlier on Monday court had reissued summons against former PM, his sons Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt. Safdar for 26th of September. The opposition party, PTI, had cried out that why one week notice has been given, by the court, in what was supposed to be a day to day hearing. Now the public pressure is building for finance minister’s resignation.

Prime Minister later endorsed Foreign Minister’s statement, prompting a strong reaction from Nisar – who was previously seen close to Khakkan Abbass

Troubles don’t seem to stop for Pakistan Muslim League (N), they might have won by-elections, in NA-120, in Lahore, on Sunday, but legal process set into motion by the supreme court’s decision of July 28, against former Prime Minister and his family continues and is creating its own momentum. But this is not the end of their troubles: apart from continuous murmurs of growing family discord, in the house of Sharifs, internal party conflict among PML-N senior leaders, hitherto disguised, continues to the intensity and now is coming into public view.

Read more: Iqbal vs Nisar: The deepening internal war?

After verbal exchanges with foreign minister Khawaja Asif, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar even lashed out at Prime minister Abbasi. His speech in the national assembly on Tuesday only brought the intra-party dispute to further public scrutiny.

Mariam Nawaz openly challenged the validity of apex court’s decision. It was obvious that her focus was on creating “Democracy versus Establishment” narrative

Supreme Court decisions in Panama case – April 20 and July 28 – have thus huge ramifications for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and with every passing day pressures are multiplying; Sharif was not just disqualified but apex court also issued directives for filing references of corruption against him and his family and provided a timed framework for investigation of these references.

Court also appointed a senior judge (Justice Ejaz ul Ahsan) to supervise the process. While Nawaz Sharif and his party succeeded in latest electoral battle, NA-120 by-elections in Lahore, they are about to face a very difficult legal battle.

Read more: Should Abbasi have held his meeting with…

In run down to elections Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), in a replay of the earlier GT Road rally, again adopted a more confrontational attitude. Mariam Nawaz openly challenged the validity of apex court’s decision. It was obvious that her focus was on creating “Democracy versus Establishment” narrative. Prime Minister later endorsed Foreign Minister’s statement, prompting a strong reaction from Nisar – who was previously seen close to Khakkan Abbassn. However results in NA-120, where Nawaz had won in 2013 by a margin of 40,000 votes remained lack luster.

Sharif was not just disqualified but apex court also issued directives for filing references of corruption against him and his family and provided a timed framework for investigation of these references

Despite playing sympathy card on Nawaz’s disqualification, Kulsum’s illness described as cancer and full support of Punjab government and unusual leniency by Election Commission the final lead against PTI rival was only around 14,000 votes creating impressions that despite her best efforts Maryam Nawaz was not able to mobilize the supporters in a constituency considered family stronghold since 1985.

Maryam Nawaz, the only family member in Pakistan, has now also left for London. Finance minister, Ishaq Dar -whose resignation is widely expected – was supposed to reach back, on Monday, has also stayed back in London. Dar is related to Sharif family; Maryam’s younger sister is married to Dar’s son.

Read more: ECP under fire over NA-120 result: Yasmin…

While the house of Sharif is busy in their battle with state’s legal Institutions, intra party conflicts keep on erupting. State of the relationship between Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar was of public knowledge, however, their recent war of words on National Action Plan (NAP) now represents a dangerous new precedent.

The opposition party, PTI, had cried out that why one week notice has been given, by the court, in what was supposed to be day to day hearing. Now public pressure is building for finance minister’s resignation

Meanwhile growing resentment between Chaudhry Nisar and other senior party leaders including Prime Minister, Abbassi, is now a new concern for PMLN’s unity. This recent party conflict erupted when foreign minister, Asif, criticized interior Ministry’s performance regarding the implementation of NAP. Prime Minister later endorsed Foreign Minister’s statement, prompting a strong reaction from Nisar – who was previously seen close to Khakkan Abbassi.

Read more: NAB claims will chase the Sharifs in…

Whatever results from the legal process remains to be seen, but the environment of confrontation, in and around PMLN, is growing. This environment is bound to impact intra party dynamics especially considering general elections are within a year.

Khawaja Dawood Tariq is Director Communication for a private firm and is pursuing M.Phil in Strategic Studies at National Defense University (NDU); earlier he completed International Relations from University of London. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.