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News Analysis |

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday while rejecting the bail plea in relation to a graft case, ordered the arrest of Pakistan People’s Party(PPP) leader and former Sindh Information Minister, Sharjeel Memon. The former lawmaker is facing a graft reference for embezzlement to the tune of Rs 5.76bn filed by the National Accountability Bureau(NAB) in an accountability court.

Zardari has so far desisted coming out in full support of the beleaguered Nawaz, the rampant NAB and relentless Khan may just go on to change the situation in the near future.

After the announcement of the court’s decision, Sharjeel Memon stayed inside the court premises for five hours to avoid arrest. However, as soon as he came out, NAB officials arrested him.

The two-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of the SHC, Justice Ahmad Ali M.Sheikh, rejected the bail appeals of Memon and 12 others accused of corruption. Menon’s plea of stopping his arrest was annulled by the SHC; the court asserted that it can only be considered if the Supreme Court overturns the order.

Read more: Sharif Family Corruption Trial: What is the role of Monitoring Judge?

The PPP leader faces two graft references — one of them pertains to allegedly awarding advertisements at prohibitive rates. The second is related to the illegal adjustment and accumulation of hundreds of acres of land in favor of a private housing project. NAB officials have said they will try and get a 14-day remand in both cases.

Sharjeel Memon returned from self-exile back to Pakistan earlier this year in March 2017,  and had obtained a protective bail in April. He had fled to Dubai after a NAB crackdown in 2015 in which he as implicated in the current corruption cases. The NAB reference for Sharjeel Memon and 11 other officials – including from media agencies- for allegedly committing corruption between 2013 to 2015.  They awarded advertisements for the Sindh government’s media campaigns in the electronic media at exorbitant rates.

The PPP has also ramped up its tirade against Khan. In a rally in Peshawar on Sunday, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto blasted Khan for his politics and alleged him of corruption.

This essentially means that both, the PPP and the PML-N are at the mercy of strict accountability from the anti-graft court. While the PPP is pleased about the indictment of its current nemesis in Nawaz Sharif, its co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari said that he won’t accept any double standards: jails for him and protocols for Sharifs.

After Sharjeel Memon’s arrest Bilawal Bhutto has protested in a tweet: one land two laws.

However, analysts see this enmity coming to an end pretty soon. The indictment of the Sharif family and the emerging rifts within the PML-N are set to weaken the ruling party. With the PPP losing its electoral clout, pundits believe that both parties can entertain thoughts of coming together. This is especially more appealing and tenable given that the PPP too, like the PML-N, has threats from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its chairman, Imran Khan.

Read more: PPP impeding accountability in Sindh

The 65-year old Khan, who has been Sharifs’ biggest challenger and the most instrumental person in the ouster of Nawaz, has categorically said that he will turn to Zardari now. Khan has ratcheted up his criticism of the PPP lately. While reiterating his assertion that both Zardari and Nawaz will save each other’s skin, Khan has vowed to take on PPP.

The 65-year old Khan, who has been Sharifs’ biggest challenger and the most instrumental person in the ouster of Nawaz, has categorically said that he will turn to Zardari now.

Addressing a rally in PPP’s fiefdom, Sehwan on Sunday, Khan said it is Zardari’s turn to face accountability while lambasting PP’s governance.“The PPP has ruined the province. Lack of development in Sindh is only because of rampant corruption in the province. I have been watching the PPP for the last 21 years making false claims of providing bread, cloth, and house, however, the reality is that no other province has as much poverty as Sindh,” he said.

Read more: Pakistan in the last decade: Democracy, Corruption, or Development?

The PPP has also ramped up its tirade against Khan. In a rally in Peshawar on Sunday, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto blasted Khan for his politics and alleged him of corruption. He said that Khan is the biggest liar’ who ‘enjoys the politics of unrest’. “All the institutions in KP were involved in corruption this is the change of PTI. Those who were claiming to eliminate corruption within 90 days cannot appoint chairman Ehtisab Commission for the last four years,” he said. Bhutto, 29, added that Khan’s kitchen and Jahangir Tareen’s jet are running from the money of the poor KP population.

After the announcement of the court’s decision, Sharjeel Memon stayed inside the court premises for five hours to avoid arrest. However, as soon as he came out, NAB officials arrested him.

While Zardari has so far desisted coming out in full support of the beleaguered Nawaz, the rampant NAB and relentless Khan may just go on to change the situation in the near future. Analyst have been inkling toward such a possibility since the Sharif family landed itself in trouble. There is also great fear that PPP-supported Lyari gangster, Uzair Baloch’s case may spell serious trouble for the PPP; even more than what the PML-N is in.

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