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May 11, 2021

Political moves

 
May 11, 2021

The various manoeuvres being made to prevent Shahbaz Sharif, the current president of the PML-N, from leaving the country, are creating greater political confusion within the nation. Mian Shahbaz Sharif had been given permission by the court to go abroad for a regular medical checkup he says he is due for. The reasons for stopping Sharif from leaving the country were based essentially on a variety of technicalities put forward by the FIA as he reached the airport. Add to that the government’s concern over the possibility that he may not return.

As far as Shahbaz Sharif’s return is concerned, there is little reason to believe that he will not come back to Pakistan, given the position he holds within the PML-N. During any visit abroad, Shahbaz Sharif is also expected to hold discussions with Nawaz Sharif and other PML-N leaders in London. This would of course be of importance not just to the party but also the country’s political landscape. This is so also because of the perceived difference in approach between the Sharif brothers, with Shahbaz Sharif staying openly away from the tougher stance taken by his older brother and Maryam Nawaz Sharif. The line the PML-N takes now could determine how the immediate future unfolds and what it brings for all those concerned with the political events of Pakistan.

The government’s justification for stopping Shahbaz Sharif has to do with the various ‘lists’ that determine who gets to leave – or not leave – the country. There is also the question of whether the challenge of the court order will lead to consequences. In other words, what we see now is a deepening of the division between major political forces, with the PTI and PML-N becoming even more alienated and antagonistic towards each other. We hope however that things will change in the coming weeks. The government must realise that it needs to be able to engage with the opposition if the country is to move forward and develop on various fronts. Continuous hostility will lead nowhere, and is already holding up talks on crucial matters, such as electoral reforms. In a democratic setup, the opposition plays a significant role and it should be allowed to do so. What Pakistan needs is a situation where the political parties, which together form the democracy of Pakistan, can at least engage in dialogue and negotiations with each other on crucial matters.