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Opinion
Friday May 04 2018
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Party loyalties and crossing the aisle

In a democracy, the political process should never stop, no matter how turbulent it may become. But in Pakistan today, the process seems to have reached hitherto unseen levels of frenzy. The government is in the final stretch of its term. Everywhere you look, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab, loyalties are being switched. Old alliances are broken, and new ones formed.

March’s Senate elections saw parliamentarians voting for rival party candidates. Further credence was given to the claims of horse-trading and plaint lawmakers when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s chief Imran Khan publicly announced the names of 20 members of the provincial assembly who, as he claims, sold their votes to the highest bidder.

But, there is more to come. Before the election is held, and maybe even after it, the party hopping will likely make your head spin. Earlier this month, six lawmakers hailing from South Punjab left the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz, one joined Khan’s PTI. Pir Pagara, a spiritual leader and politician from Sindh, is once again on the stump, trying assiduously to crystallize a Grand Alliance. Chatter through the grapevine is that he is also in touch with leaders from the ruling party. In Lahore, he managed to get the Chaudhrys of Gujrat to see eye-to-eye with him on contesting from one platform with one symbol. Further up north, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a conglomerate of religious parties, is also raising its head.

Then, there are rumours of ruptures within. Off-the-record members and leaders of the PML-N express concern and confusion about what party stance to adopt: Nawaz Sharif’s confrontational one or Shehbaz Sharif’s conciliatory one?

On to Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the bigwig of the party. His own behaviour and words demonstrate that he is now drifting away from the PML-N’s core. The elder Sharif has also not hidden his displeasure with the Chaudhry of Chakri. Khan, I am told, has no patience with five people close to his former boss, especially the former Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed. Tongues are already wagging. Imran Khan sensing an opportunity has publicly invited Nisar Ali Khan, multiple times, to join his horde. But the younger Sharif won’t let go that easily. Shehbaz Sharif maintains, privately and publicly, that come what may, the Chaudhry will never ditch the PML-N.

Sources privy to the development revealed that the younger Sharif is working overtime to get his brother to forgive the Chaudhry of Chakri. But Nawaz Sharif is not ready yet to let bygones be bygones.

For the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the brothers are a solid footing which is unlikely to lose balance. But can the same be said for the rest of the king’s men?


- Ansari is Geo News' Lahore Bureau Chief

Note: The views expressed in the article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geo News or the Jang Group.

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