Nawaz in Khairpur

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Nawaz Sharifs address in Khairpur was widely reported the next day by the vernacular Sindhi media. It was noted, with ironic connotations, by some that this was the first interaction on the part of the chief of the major opposition party with interior Sindh during the last two years and a half. The visit came in the wake of an announcement by Nawaz early this month that he was working on a new social contract that he called the Charter of Pakistan and which, according to him, was aimed at strengthening the parliament and democratic institutions. Acting in the newly visualized role of a statesman, as well as that of the leader of the opposition, required him to perform a tight rope walk.

In his Khairpur speech, Nawaz, by and large, succeeded in maintaining the balance. He recounted what he considered to be his major achievements as Prime Minister, particularly in the context of Sindh. He criticized Musharraf for staging the coup and vowed to stand against any new attempt by the army to remove the civilian set up. He criticised the government for the backbreaking hike in the prices of basic commodities and for corruption. Nawaz, however, maintained that the PPP administration still had a chance to correct the course by acting in accordance with the CoD.

While Nawaz was acting with relative restraint, Shahbaz, as usual, pulled no punches while lambasting the federal government on Tuesday at a function in Lahore. He maintained that all the problems faced by the people of Pakistan today were caused by the corruption of the PPP government, pointing his finger directly at the President. He said he was even willing to sacrifice his government in his fight against the corrupt PPP leadership, ruling out any compromise. As power struggle unfolds between the government and the opposition in the second half of their respective tenures at the center and Punjab, one will wait to see whether the two have really learnt any lesson from their disastrous encounters.