It seems a deal has been struck
It is finally an atmosphere of peace for the forces that are busy in political engineering since the last year to maneuver the results of general elections 2018. Sharif and his daughter Maryam are finally out of the country to take care of the critically ill Kulsoom Nawaz and their exit from the scene means no anti-establishment narrative or criticism of invisible forces and judiciary. Shehbaz Sharif being liked by the forces that matter is an ideal candidate for premiership as he is being quite compromising and ready to work on dictation. Imran Khan, the blue-eyed boy of the establishment these days competing against an obedient Shehbaz, is not a bad match as it’s a win-win situation for the establishment.
Kulsoom Nawaz’s illness not a farce, but..
Sharif and Maryam stay in London has given birth to many controversies and conspiracy theories. Kulsoom Nawaz is ill, and there is no doubt about it. The irresponsible statements from PTI’s Naeem ul Haque and PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan calling her illness a drama to get sympathy can be termed as a new low in our politics as even the patient on the deathbed is not being spared to settle political scores.
Maryam, Nawaz to stay in London while Shehbaz getting something for PML-N
However, there are rumors in the power corridors of a possible deal between Sharifs and the establishment or Sharif and his daughter both not coming back to Pakistan. Some credible sources have given the hint of a possible deal according to which, Sharif and his daughter Maryam will stay out of the election campaign and in return, Shehbaz may be able to get something for PML-N after the General elections. The Pakistani ambassador in USA Ali Jahangir Siddiqi is said to be busy in getting something out from Trump administration in Sharif’s favor.
Nawaz Sharif’s absence damaging PML-N’s prospects
The top tier of PML-N is not ready to talk on this issue, but after talking to a few of the stalwarts of PML-N, one can easily judge that they do not want to negate the possibility of the alleged deal between the Sharifs and the establishment or Sharif not coming back to Pakistan. The absence of Sharif and Maryam is causing real damage to PML-N prospects of a big win from Punjab as the members within the party are getting panicked and they know that it is the brand Nawaz that gets them the votes.
Zaeem Qadri episode proof of Shehbaz’s failure to hold party together
Shehbaz Sharif is a good administrator but he is not a popular leader who can be termed as a crowd puller neither he knows the art of running the political party on his own. Zaeem Qadri’s exit is an example in this regard where he actually refused to accept Shehbaz and his son Hamza Shehbaz authority on the policy matters. Then there is the angry leadership in different cities who despite their longtime affiliations and sacrifices have not been awarded the party ticket.
Disarray within PML-N at the constituency level
An example in this regard is the famous Constituency of Rawalpindi NA-62 where the son of Chaudhry Tanvir, a stalwart of PML-N, has been awarded ticket and Shakeel Awan forced to compete on a provincial assembly seat, resulting in the PML-N Rawalpindi president being deprived of the provincial assembly ticket. Zia Ullah Shah has refused to accept the decision and if he and his allies boycott the elections, it will result in a defeat for PML-N in NA-62 against Sheikh Rasheed.
Shehbaz doesn’t have the cult his brother enjoys
There are other senior members from different cities who after being deprived of tickets are boycotting or not supporting PML-N. Shehbaz Sharif seems helpless in resolving these issues. He doesn’t have the cult following which his elder brother enjoys. Nawaz Sharif, even in the toughest times, was able to not only hold his party together but was also successful in resolving the rifts within the party.
The Sharif sitting in London knows it that his brother is not capable of running an effective election campaign, and his influence on party affairs is not firm as well.
It was his control, his influence and his cult among his voters that actually held the party together and despite the differences we did not see any rifts or the local leadership of different cities refusing to support the party. The Sharif sitting in London knows it that his brother is not capable of running an effective election campaign, and his influence on party affairs is not firm as well. So there is no way that Sharif in any circumstances will sit in London and watch his party in disarray with a very weak election campaign headed by Shehbaz.
It is equal to signing his death warrant. For, if PML-N fails to get a simple majority in the coming elections it will be all over for Sharif, and his end means the end of PML-N as well.
So if Sharif is sitting in London along with his daughter who actually built the strong anti-establishment narrative that really helped PML-N to come out of the shackles, is another sign that the rumors about the alleged deal are true and that is the reason that Sharif is not intervening in any matter since last week.
Maryam Nawaz who had a very strong grip over party affairs is actually out of the scene. She is no more calling the shots and it is Hamza Shehbaz who has again taken the charge in Punjab.
Maryam has surrendered in Hamza’s favor
It seems strange as the fight for the throne between Hamza and Maryam was going on since long, and a complete silence from Maryam Nawaz right now means she is surrendering the throne to Hamza which actually seems very strange. It seems that some guarantees are given to both Sharif and Maryam and the guarantee must have assured them of their possible return soon after the elections, else at least one of them should have been here in Pakistan at this critical juncture.
Right now, the PML-N top-tier needs to negate or accept this theory as ambiguity or perception of a deal or Sharif not coming back will dent the vote bank of PML-N in the general elections.
Politics has no heart and it does not recognize any illness or human tragedy. Nobody knows it better than Sharif who is being strangled by all the corners. Staying away from the country for such a long stay while elections are approaching is not going to help him get out of the trap set by his opponents. This leaves a question. If the rumors about a possible deal or Sharif not coming back to Pakistan in order to avoid arrest are true and Sharif and his daughter will stay out of election campaign, then why were the urban middle-class youth and the workers of the party exploited against the establishment? Was it just to gain the political space so a deal can be made?
Whether this alleged deal between Sharif and the invisible forces of him not coming back to the country is true or not, only time will tell. Right now, the PML-N top-tier needs to negate or accept this theory as ambiguity or perception of a deal or Sharif not coming back will dent the vote bank of PML-N in the general elections.
The author is a regular contributor at various newspapers and websites. He has been associated with various TV channels. radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policy and media related think tanks.