Is Shahbaz the right choice?

Nawaz’s conscience wakes up only when it comes to SC (post-Panama verdict) and NAB references

At last, Nawaz Sharif handed over the party presidency of the PMLN to his younger brother with a heavy heart. But Nawaz has become a Quaid of PMLN for life, not exactly like Altaf Hussain for MQM.

The decision was taken following the verdict of the Supreme Court on the reversal of Election Act amendment. According to the decision, a person disqualified under article 62 and 63 cannot head a political party.

In retrospective, PMLN tried its best to accommodate Nawaz for the party presidency, but the rivalries carried it till the end. The opposition gave PMLN tough time in the legal arena.

Most significant point amid this was the paragraph 9 of the short order in which Supreme Court stated that all steps taken by Nawaz Sharif after Panama Case verdict are declared null. To remind people, a disqualified Nawaz Sharif chaired the meeting of CWC. Subsequently, the detailed judgment of apex court stated that a disqualified person could neither become a king nor a kingmaker. Can the presidency of Shahbaz Sharif be challenged in Supreme Court, remains a million dollar question.

Now that Shahbaz is the interim president, it is contemplated as the defeat of elder Sharif. Appointing Shahbaz as the party president reflects that Nawaz’ narrative ‘muje kyun nikala’ may diffuse. Initially, people were not ready to buy the narrative of Nawaz. But moderately, the ‘‘muje kyun nikala’ campaign received a good response. Will the party attitude remain the same under Shahbaz’ presidency?

Shahbaz and Nawaz have not been on the same page when it comes to Panama crisis. Shahbaz has always been the bridge man, not the resistor. However, the elder Sharif and his daughter have started criticising the institutions following the Panama verdict.

Far more serious are the NAB cases, including Ashiyana Scheme and Multan Metro, which are hanging like a sword on younger Sharif. They may fabricate hurdles for him in coming days. At this crucial stage, PMLN should have chosen a non-controversial person as the party head to deal with the incumbent political crossroad.

Despite all the odds, elder Sharif had no option but to appoint Shahbaz Sharif as the interim president because the power in our mainstream political parties is dynastic in its nature

Despite all the odds, elder Sharif had no other option but appointing Shahbaz Sharif as the interim president because the power in our mainstream political parties articulates within the family. Bhuttos and Sharifs are the most relevant examples. How can Bilawal be a ‘Bhutto’? Now a discussion is circulating that who is going to be the PMLN Punjab president and possibly CM? That must also remain within the family, as the streak must not be distorted.

However, for PMLN, it was essential to consolidate the party post-Panama verdict as many MNAs of PMLN were against the narrative of Nawaz and were all ready to continue under Shahbaz presidency. But the move of Nawaz was subsequent. Many of the MNAs had already decided to vacate their seats. The MNAs surmise that the way Shahbaz had been appointed is more or less like a rubberstamp presidency. The theory carries weight as Nawaz has become a Quaid for life. Therefore, the proceed to keep the party intact has failed.

After disqualification, Nawaz claimed himself to be an ideologue. Nevertheless, the appointment of Shahbaz reflects passivity (the ideology of necessity) prevailing.

The doctrine of Nawaz only wakes up when it comes to SC (post-Panama verdict) and NAB references. If this is so, then it’s more of an ideology of necessity. When PM Yousuf Raza Gillani was disqualified, the same ideologue Sharif stood by the SC. And when the SC is tightening the accountability process around him, Nawaz becomes ideological.

In other words, Nawaz’ confrontation with the institution is because of his disqualification.

The writer is an academic. He tweets @muhd_hani

Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2018.