May 142008

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: After several closed-door political moves in Islamabad, Murree, Dubai and London, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif has emerged as one of the shrewdest politicians of Pakistan.
He has not only successfully managed to keep his political alliance with Asif Ali Zardari intact, to keep the pro-Musharraf forces away from the power corridors, but has also secured the top slot of chief ministership of Punjab for his younger brother.

And after the masterstroke of resigning from the cabinet, the many secret compromising deals with the PPP notwithstanding, he has received applause from the public and the media on the one hand and has succeeded in portraying Asif Ali Zardari as the political villain on the other.

It is being said that in the name of opposing Musharraf, Nawaz is now doing everything which is politically questionable by all those who have long heard him make tall claims, first in Jeddah and later in London, that he would never do the politics of expediency and power.

As if this was not enough to push the PPP into a political corner, unlike the general perception about him, Nawaz has now secretly opened the lines of communication even with his worst political enemies, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.

This new move, which almost went unnoticed in the national media, was launched by Nawaz, believing there were no permanent friends or foes in politics, only interests mattered. The reported ‘no’ of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to President Musharraf to step down from the presidency of PML-Q is said to have given Nawaz a window of opportunity to adopt the forgive and forget policy vis-a-vis the Chaudhrys.

Ch Nisar Ali Khan has been given the mission to bring the Chaudhrys of Gujrat around and into the fold of PML-N Incidentally, or deliberately, Nisar who is also a shrewd politician, had already held a “chance” meeting with the Chaudhry cousins Shujaat and Pervez Elahi during an air trip from Lahore to Islamabad on a PIA flight.

These former foes are about to get closer in the name of confronting their common enemy ó Musharraf. This hour-long chance meeting on a PIA plane has given a clear indication that Nawaz was finally preparing to accept his former colleagues to further isolate Musharraf.

Nawaz whose politics revolves around opposing Musharraf is now preparing himself for this great reunion and one fine morning may be seen smiling on television screens embracing the Chaudhrys under the guise of principled politics.

He will market the twist and turn by spinning the story that he had accepted the Chaudhrys only to further isolate Musharraf. As the media and politicians are already tired of Musharraf and his palace intrigues, so they would rush to congratulate Nawaz, instead of asking some tough questions about his previous promises or claims.

In exile, Nawaz always promised not to do power politics or politics of expediency but now he is doing both and, surprisingly, is not being reprimanded from any corner. Background interviews with some political sources revealed that Nawaz had paid a very small price in the shape of quitting the cabinet because he is said to have struck a secret deal with Zardari in their closed-door meetings that both would continue to cooperate in future as PML-N would not let his party government fall in Islamabad and PPP will protect the PML-N in Punjab.

Zardari too has been sensing the political games of Nawaz and has been sending his own discreet messages. One such indirect move was to let PM Gilani meet the PML-Q rebels but if he really wanted some “lotas”, Zardari could have sent his tough guys and got what he wanted.

The Gilani-Wattoo meeting rang alarm bells in the Nawaz camp. And the message was well received asking him not to think of quitting the alliance at the Centre, otherwise the PPP had its options to take him back to the politics of the 90s when Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz were out to get each other.

Nawaz also did not want to see the papers of his brother Shahbaz being rejected by the Election Commission of Pakistan as it had happened earlier. So, he decided to behave.

But in the process Nawaz has quietly gained the sympathies of the public by asking his ministers to resign yet no one is asking why he was still offering political support to a regime which was not ready to restore the judges.

Nawaz got the votes in the name of the judges but he has ended up extending the rule of someone like Zardari who hates those very judges. One wonders that if this is not the politics of expediency which he always rejected during his exile, what is it?

Courtesy: The News, 14/5/2008

 Posted by at 6:58 am

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