Monday Jul 17, 2017
Who in this country knows better about 'conspiracies' than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself with over 35 years experience as three times PM and a CM for two times. But the present crisis has emerged as a result of Panama leaks, and has threatened his own political career and that of his family.
The biggest challenge for him is not only to come out of crisis but also to keep his own house in order which looked in disorder amid reports that his trusted colleague Chaudhry Nisar is not happy. The PML-N’s own house is in disorder since long which even reflected from the fact that some of his own cabinet ministers and members of his closest advisory team are not even on talking terms.
Sources said Chaudhry Nisar is unhappy because he feels time and again that the PM has mishandled the situation particularly in dealing with the establishment, and now some party hawks are advising him to take a stand in a situation where it could be politically fatal for him.
In a bid to keep the party united, the PM has held a series of meetings with his close team members, including cabinet ministers and parliamentarians in the last few days. The situation can aggravate further if something goes wrong in the Supreme Court against the PM.
The PM has given the task to Shehbaz Sharif to convince Chaudhry Nisar and remove his reservations, who is not happy with the manner in which the PM has mishandled the situation from 'Dawn leaks to Panama leaks,' and ignored some of his advices.
PM's dilemma is that in the last four years, neither he nor CM Shehbaz could defuse tension within PML-N top brass, while anti-Nisar lobby blamed him for damaging 'friendly relationship' with the PPP, during Karachi operation and targeting Asif Zardari's close friends. The interior minister, sources said, had defended his position in making Karachi operation bipartisan.
The PML-PPP relationship suffered after the arrest of Dr Asim and on a number of occasions, Zardari and PPP blamed Chaudhry Nisar for these actions. If reports about Nisar's reaction are true, it is a matter of concern for both Nawaz and Shehbaz. While Chaudhry Nisar blames some of PM's advisers for mishandling Panama crisis, sources said, the PM felt embarrassed over interior minister's remarks and said, 'He could have said this at a private conversation.'
He is among the closest aides of the Sharifs, the man who perhaps knows more than anyone else how the PML-N confronted crises in the last four years, since the first crisis regarding the trial of former president Pervez Musharraf.
An unimpeachable source told this writer that during the current crisis, the interior minister had once cautious the PM against some people around him, who are pushing him to 'no win' situation.
"Chaudhry Nisar never questioned PM's honesty, but is not convinced of some of the aides around him and had even cautioned Nawaz Sharif,” source who knows the differences emerged within the party revealed.
Chaudhry Nisar and Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif always considered in party's top rank as closest to the PM on matters relating to 'civil and military' relationship. When the decision to register a case under Article VI against former army chief Pervez Musharraf, he opposed it saying, 'It’s too early for such a decision."
Nisar also played a role to avert a serious crisis in 2014, during the long march and longest ever 'dharna' (126 days) led by Imran and Tahirul Qadri. Sources said he convinced the PM to let them stage the dharna, and that any use of force could lead to extra constitutional action. He also advised his old colleague Imran Khan to avoid confrontation.
Since he also had reports that certain people within the relevant quarters were trying to take advantage of the situation, it was the final meeting between the PM and the former army chief Raheel Sharif which defused the situation. The then army chief told Imran and Qadri that army could ensure implementation of the findings of the Judicial Commission, but would not support demand of PM's resignation prior to the JC report.
PM Nawaz Sharif is once again facing pressure to quit after a compact report of Joint Investigation Team, which PM and PML-N have questioned and would challenge it in the SC Monday.
The difference between 2014 and 2017 has been the role of the parliament and opposition. In 2014, the entire opposition minus the PTI and Imran stood behind the PM and rejected demand of PM's resignation. In 2014, the PPP and other parties defended position by saying they had saved system and not Sharif.
Today, it is the other way around. The opposition with one voice demanded PM's resignation. The only difference within the opposition is the timing. Perhaps the ANP and Qaumi Watan Party, who said they should wait for Supreme Court verdict. They may also take the same position along with the PPP and the PTI, if the SC declared the PM disqualified.
Former president Asif Zardari and top PPP leaders believe that it was Ch Nisar, who created 'cracks in the PPP-PML relationship’. This is not all untrue as after the army operation in Karachi, Nisar decided to re-open the pending inquiries against the PPP leaders, which later became the point of differences between NS and Zardari.
Ch Nisar was also not happy over Dawn leaks, and thus supported complete inquiry. He also developed problems with DG ISPR, and questioned one of his press conferences over the issue. But he was unhappy with some of his party leaders over this serious crisis, which created serious dent between civil and military establishment. About two months back, he was among those who opposed PM's resignation, when Nawaz Sharif himself asked his close colleagues about it. "No, not now,” was his reply. Ch Nisar is a born Muslim Leaguer and it is very unlikely that he quit PML-N or even distance himself from Nawaz Sharif, but would certainly assert his position on record in the days to come.
The writer is the senior columnist and analyst of GEO, The News and Jang
Originally published in The News