The elder Sharif is seen in a mood to resist but at what cost
With the hard-hitting press conference of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week and his indirect lambasting of the establishment, the country is likely to witness a drastic rise in political temperature which might lead to political instability as well.
This is not the first time that Nawaz has dared to challenge the mighty institution of the Islamic Republic. In the past he fell out with General Asif Nawaz Janjua, infuriated General Abdul Waheed Kakar, sent General Jahangir Karamat packing and sacked General Pervaiz Musharraf.
After being thrown out of power, Nawaz, who would hardly meet his party parliamentarians and rarely grace the upper and lower houses with his presence, ventured out to muster support for "restoring the sanctity of vote campaign." People thronged the GT Road to have a glimpse of their leader who thundered like a wounded lion, sending alarm bells in Rawalpindi. He was sent messages to hand over the party matters to younger Sharif but Nawaz remained adamant in leading the right-wing political party.
Political pundits in Islamabad believe that after applying all tactics, the angels resorted to their trump card, creating a situation whereby Nawaz had to pay a visit to the past place of his exile. The invisible power hoped that the benefactor, who forced Saad Hariri to resign albeit momentarily, might convince the elder Sharif to abandon politics but the move failed. Not only pundits but those who have been close to Nawaz seem to be buying this conspiracy theory.
It is quite possible that Mian Sahib was asked in Saudi Arabia to retire from politics and hand over the matters to his younger brother Shahbaz but the former prime minister refused. "He may have politely replied this is not possible at all," said ex-PML N Senator Zafar Ali Shah. Shah warns if Mian Sahib did not dissociate with the PML-N, the party would suffer a lot because he has declared a war on establishment. "I think more cases will be opened against him. He may even be convicted; cases will also chase Maryam and Captain Safdar. Mian Sahib thinks his party will stand by him but I can tell you the moment any real crackdown begins against Nawaz Sharif, all those who are standing on his right and left will be the first to desert him."
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Analyst Ahsan Raza says, "The establishment is in hot waters because of the international political environment, so, the elder Sharif seized upon this opportunity to settle scores with his tormentor. Although they are creating problems here and there, they cannot push him completely against the wall. Nawaz Sharif feels that the powers that be do not want Senate elections. They are destabilising the PML-N government in Balochistan. In my view if the government in Balochistan falls apart, Nawaz will launch a vigorous campaign against the establishment."
Shah believes that the party is in no position to endure a crackdown by the state.
N-League was planted in the nursery of GHQ. It collaborated with military establishment to kick out two governments of the PPP. Nawaz reneged on his promises of supporting the civilian dispensation by approaching the court wearing black coat in the Memo Scandal.
Analysts believe history has given an excellent chance to Nawaz Sharif, who once declared himself to be the ideological heir of General Zia, to wash off his past sins by adopting an anti-establishment line and vowing to never fall prey to its machination against any future civilian elected government.