By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: Asif Ali Zardari continues to exploit the worst weakness of Nawaz Sharif – his widely publicised hatred for Pervez Musharraf since October 12, 1999, when a handcuffed prime minister was dragged out of the PM House that fateful night. A comfortable Zardari is now testing Nawaz’s nerves by taking different positions at regular intervals on the issue of the restoration of judges, as he cleverly understands that Nawaz knows that any hasty decision on his part might help resurrect the otherwise virtually dumped president.
Zardari knows that Nawaz would not like to part ways at this stage when they are discussing how to clip the powers of the president, followed by his impeachment. Background interviews with some top politicians revealed that Nawaz was facing the worst dilemma of his political life. If he does not end his “political romance” with the PPP (in case the judges are not restored within a week), then he would instantly come down with a thud. And if he breaks the alliance in his bid to live up to the people’s expectations, then his bitter enemy Musharraf would be the sole beneficiary of his hasty move.
Many insiders believe that Nawaz is being politically “blackmailed” by Zardari, who fully understands the difficulties the former prime minister might face in case he quits the alliance. Sources said although both the leaders were committed to restoring the judges in the light of the Murree accord, differences between the two sides continued to mar their political relationship.
These observers feel that unlike the public perception that Nawaz is in a “win-win” situation whether or not the judges are restored, the situation is quite otherwise. But the diehard supporters of “win-win” theory feel that in case the judges are not restored, Nawaz could force the PPP to join hands with the PML-Q to save its government. This scenario might be very scary for Zardari, as he himself had declared the PML-Q as “Qatil League”.
So, Zardari’s alliance with Pervez Elahi would make him the most unpopular leader in the whole of Pakistan, more so in Sindh where the Sindhis are already furious over his desperate bids to make an alliance with the MQM. On the other hand, the public, media, civil society and lawyers would turn towards Nawaz who in the process might become a big political force even in Sindh. In this situation, the only beneficiary would be Nawaz Sharif.
And if judges are restored, Nawaz would be rightly taking the full credit for their restoration as it was his party that actually championed the cause of the defiant judges. Nawaz would thus emerge as the “principled politician” who had delivered on what he had promised to the people.
But, some analysts do not subscribe to the “win-win” theory and feel that Asif Zardari clearly knows the dangerous level of enmity between Nawaz and Musharraf. Zardari fully understands that it would not be as easy for Nawaz to quit the coalition government as his party leaders would have us believe. By breaking the alliance, he would pave the way for the pro-Musharraf political parties to join the PPP-led government, thus playing right into the hands of Musharraf. This is what Nawaz would never like to happen, and would rather side with Zardari to clip Musharraf’s powers and finally impeach him to settle the score.
Sources said Nawaz’s enmity with Musharraf has now become a big burden for him, as only he knows a lot is at stake if he ends his cooperation with the PPP. They say when the time comes it would not be easy for Nawaz to ask his ministers to resign as he knows it would mean immediate resurrection of Musharraf, which he would like to avoid at all costs.
Source: The News, 24/4/2008