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December 24, 2018

What is cooking up?

National

December 24, 2018

Though political temperature inside Parliament has considerably cooled down after Prime Minister Imran Khan showed flexibility on formation of different parliamentary committees, including Public Accounts Committee (PAC), it may go up today (Monday) both inside and outside Parliament, when the NAB court will announce the verdict in the NAB references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family, while on the other hand the Supreme Court will take up JIT report on money laundering, allegedly involving former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and son Bilawal Bhutto.

In case things goes against the duo, the PTI government has worked out the counter strategy based on mobilising public opinion against them as, 'two sides of the same coin'.

In the changing political scenario the PPP and PML-N have also taken a U-turn, first time in 10 years as the two have soften their stance against each other. So far, Prime Minister Imran Khan is known for taking U-turn, and has even defended the term as part of changing strategy.

The top leaderships of both the parties are in trouble and have now decided to shun their differences, admitting mistakes they had committed in the past after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Their second tier leadership already held meetings but they are still tight-lipped about Nawaz-Zardari one-on-one meeting, but Shahbaz Sharif, who earlier held conversation with Zardari during the National Assembly session, may have formal meeting within him in coming days.

PPP high command which met at Bilawal House on Friday, has chalked out its plan which they are likely to unveil after today's hearing at the Supreme Court or on December 27 -- on the eve of the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto at a public meeting at Garhi Khuda Bukhsh, Larkhana.

The PML-N, on the other hand have also decided to come on street and Nawaz Sharif has constituted a seven members 'Advisory Board' to organise public opinion.

PPP and PML (N) leadership have also decided to pursue JUI-F chief Mualana Fazlur Rehman to re-launch his efforts, which he had abodon after both Nawaz and Zardari had refused to shake hands.

Government too is ready for counter offensive and Imran Khan too held consultative meetings with his aides while his senior party leader, Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a meeting with the delegation of MQM (Pakistan), which is not happy over the non-implementation on its six-point accord. He will also be meeting with Baloch nationalist leader, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, who too is not happy with the PTI government.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told me on Saturday that he doubt the two parties (PML-N and PPP) have the capacity to launch any mass movement and said “this is 2018 not 1985”. Pakistan has changed and so is politics. The PML-N and PPP should now look for politics beyond Sharifs and Zardari, he added.

“The PTI has not to do much to counter them except mobilising public opinion that they had been caught on the basis of cases registered in their own tenures and now exposed by the courts,” he added.

When I asked about the possibility of governor's rule in Sindh, incase PPP creates law and order situation if things go against Zardari, he said, “We have all kind of options to deal with such situation but I don't think opposition has the capacity.”

PPP senior leader Syed Kursheed Shah, on the other hand, believes that certain forces want to see Nawaz, Zardari exit from politics. "You know better than me about whom I am talking about," he told me when I met him outside the Banking Court, where he came to attend the proceedings of Mr Zardari and Faryal Talpur in money laundering case which has been adjourned till January 7.

“Prime Minister, Imran Khan is just a Ladla [darling] and Ladla doesn't have the power or capacity to tackle such situation,” he added. “Let see how things will change in the next few weeks," Shah stated. What really concerns Asif Zardari is that the JIT also summoned his son Bilawal Bhutto.

The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of GEO, The News and Jang

Twitter: @MazharAbbasGEO