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Shahbaz’s Arrest: Who gains & Who loses?


News Analysis |

Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, former Chief Minister of Punjab and current leader of opposition in the National Assembly, has been arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the eve of Friday. Mr. Sharif reportedly appeared before the authorities on the same day where he was detained by the NAB after informing the speaker of the national assembly.

Former CM Punjab is being investigated for allegedly canceling a contract with a company and awarding it to a ‘favorite’ one in Ashiana Iqbal housing scheme and Punjab Saaf Pani Company. The Saaf Pani Company was established by the PML-N president during the previous Punjab government to conceive, plan, design, execute and manage projects for the provision of safe drinking water in terms of both access and quality, to communities living in rural areas of the province.

The arrest of Shahbaz Sharif will help out the PML-N to strengthen its position by increasing the sheen of their narrative that how the PTI and establishment are jointly opposing the presence of the PML-N.

While reacting to the development, son of Shahbaz Sharif who is opposition leader in Punjab assembly said that this is the case of political victimization. Hamza Shahbaz maintained that his party was being targeted to politically sideline them for their pro-democracy narrative in Pakistan. He also alleged the government and other institutions of pre-poll rigging like before in by-elections.

He was alluding to the arrest of his uncle and former party head Mr. Nawaz Sharif who was arrested by the authorities after an accountability court ordered his arrest in Avenfield reference filed by the NAB. It is important to mention here that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is all set to hold the by-elections for 11 parliamentary seats and 19 provincial assembly seats on Oct. 14.

Read more: Fall of the house of Sharif: NAB arrests Shahbaz

The ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was recently released on bail on the orders of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has also commented on the arrest of his younger brother. The arrest of opposition leader is not only regretful but also ridiculous, said the elder Sharif. Nawaz Sharif also warned that the PTI government should prepare itself for the treatment in the future what it is giving out to its political opponents because this is how the nature works.

Former CM Punjab is being investigated for allegedly canceling a contract with a company and awarding it to a ‘favorite’ one in Ashiana Iqbal housing scheme and Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

PML-N and their supporters have blamed the government and establishment for the arrest of Shehbaz Sharif. The government has, however, clarified its position repeatedly and maintained the NAB is an independent and the government will help out the watchdog according to the prescribed rules within the limits of the constitution.

For some analysts in Pakistan, the timing of the arrest of the former CM is very important. Since the party was about to contest the by-elections which will make a huge difference in Punjab and national assemblies because the PTI-led government enjoys a thin majority in both assemblies. Punjab is particularly important where PML-N is said to be very serious and committed to regaining its lost power.

Read more: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif?

But for many other observers, this is not the case. Shahbaz’s arrest is likely to help out the PML-N, not the PTI. The Former CM has been unable to show any leadership skills during the general elections which led commentators to conclude that he has only managerial skills to regulate the affairs of a province. Nawaz Sharif is said to be the backbone of the party even now.

The ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was recently released on bail on the orders of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has also commented on the arrest of his younger brother.

The arrest of Shahbaz Sharif will help out the PML-N to strengthen its position by increasing the sheen of their narrative that how the PTI and establishment are jointly opposing the presence of the PML-N. It is expected that the PML-N will sell out the arrest of party president to seek the vote of sympathy and if it remains successful in winning more than expected seats in Punjab there will be a challenge for the PTI and CM Buzdar to maintain their majority in the assembly.

Read more: Hamza Shahbaz returns as battle of the Sharifs’ heats up

Apparently, the arrest will benefit the PML-N but it is yet to be seen how it unfolds in the coming days. Interestingly, the arrest of Mr. Sharif has also shown that the recent statements issued by the senior leader of PML-N Mr. Rana Mashood, saying Shahbaz Sharif is now the choice of the establishment, were baseless. Largely the notion of political victimization has been negated by observers.

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