Nawaz, Maryam very quiet: Silence of the lambs

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has deliberately decided to keep himself and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in ‘low key’ and remain silent but still he has a strategy to address the political challenges ahead of him, his family and party minus ‘NRO’.

“There is no NRO nor Sharifs will seek NRO,” a close aide of Nawaz said as Prime Minister Imran Khan last week warned against any NRO. Prime Minister must have courage to say as who is seeking NRO and name the person who approached him, his party or any other quarter, he added. “Only time will tell who will go for NRO as PM himself is facing the pressure both from inside and outside,” the aide told this scribe.

Yes, there is and will be more pressure from the government, with more cases and investigation but Sharifs are not going anywhere rest assured, he added. His strategy seems to be ‘wait and see’ and let government make more and more mistakes and should not look for excuses. Therefore, he decided neither to go too close to former president Asif Ali Zardari nor will go too far against Imran Khan or the PTI government.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is playing role of mediator between the two (Nawaz, Zardari) and held another meeting with Nawaz, asked the two to attend APC and also agree on one-on-one meeting. Maulana is reluctant to hold any APC in absence of the two.

Although the actual content of the messages still not been disclosed but sources said Nawaz told Zardari that he had not initiated any cases against him and whatever happened in the last five years of the PML-N tenure in Karachi and Sindh were not under his instructions.

Sources said the message also contains the role played by the former interior minister Ch Nisar and at times Mian sb also differed with him. Mian sb and Ch Nisar were not on one page as far as some of the actions taken against Zardari’s friend Dr Asim Hussain. On the other hand, Zardari regretted that Nawaz did not seek explanation from Ch Nisar or security agencies over Dr Asim’s arrest.

Interestingly, both Nawaz and Zardari are under pressure from their own party leaders. They believe that the best strategy would be to keep the PTI government under pressure within the Parliament. However, Maulana Fazlur Rehman is in a more aggressive mood and wants APC to convert into a Grand Alliance, the proposal which Nawaz rejected.

Nawaz believes that his party is intact and the recent results of by-elections has also given him some confidence to challenge the PTI and Imran without adopting an aggressive posture and would allow the PTI government and Imran to commit more mistakes. “Maryam’s silence is also part of the strategy but rest assured we are going nowhere and time will tell who will go or seek NRO and from whom,” the PML-N leader stated.

Ever since the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the otherwise vocal daughter has not showed her aggression against the PTI or Imran Khan. She has rather avoided giving any statement either through tweets or talking to media.

While Mian sb despite low key posture has been holding party meetings and also held talks with other opposition leaders except Asif Ali Zardari or Bilawal Bhutto, his daughter has confined herself to home. Zardari and Bilawal did visit Raiwind for condolence on the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz but no breakthrough is yet over a joint opposition strategy.

One of the senior PML-N leaders said, “Maryam holds no party office and Mian sb himself has decided that she will play her role at an appropriate time, an indication that in case she gets relief from the court against her conviction she would be in a better position”.

Mian sb also knows the strength and weaknesses of his party leaders and under the present circumstance he doesn’t want to create a situation which allows Imran to use it as an excuse against the opposition.

It also appears the PML-N and Nawaz are confident that the PTI government would not hold local bodies’ elections soon as they have already failed in bringing any major split in the PML-N despite disqualification of some its leaders and pressure on some leaders from the FIA, NAB and IB.

They apprehend that if local bodies’ elections are held soon; there are chances that the PML-N may emerge strong as a party as it has strong roots in local bodies. However, Aleem Khan, Ch Sarwar and Pervaiz Elahi believe that with the passage of time they would sweep the local bodies.

Some of the administrative measures taken by the PTI government, particularly in Punjab, also went in favour of the PML-N, including the very selection of its chief minister which had exposed intra-party differences and the PTI leaders themselves admitted that they lost by-election because of bad selection of candidates.

While Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the most vocal PTI leader claimed that the government can create groups in the PML-N and also hinted towards some party leaders looking for NRO for Nawaz. The PML-N leaders termed Fawad’s attempt as to divert attention from their own failures.

Fawad is master of provoking the opposition and to some extent he is also successful as it led to more verbal attacks on each other rather on issues.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is presently on the back seat while Punjab Governor Ch Sarwar, Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi and Local Government Minister Aleem Khan on the front seats.

Despite Imran’s firm commitment to depoliticise police in Punjab, he could not even bring back his most favorite police officer, former IGP, KP, Nasir Durrani, who had resigned after sudden transfer of IGP Punjab. The new IGP is said to be close to Ch Sarwar, who is now considered as a strong man in the province.

In view of the pressure from his own colleagues, Imran has not even given any replacement for Durrani and for all practical purposes the Police Reforms Task Force has been abandoned.

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