Political change to start from Punjab next month


LAHORE: The possibility of an imminent political change at the top has gained credence once again with increasing brinkmanship and political manoeuvring involving all major political actors in Pakistan.
Sources said the chances of change at the top had become almost a reality and that too not a distant one. It was leant that the process of change would start from the Punjab, where the PPP and the PML-Q have reached a political understanding to topple the PML-N government in the province through all means available to them, including an in-house change through a no-confidence vote against Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
According to the sources, if everything went well from the PPP-PML-Q point of view, there was an ample possibility that the process of change would start in December. They said it was about time that the Lahore High Court braced for the change of guard with Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif retiring on December 9.
“But the game plan, whatever it is, will be ready for implementation if the two parties trying to bring about the change are in complete agreement and odds are stacked in their favour,” a source privy to recent contacts between the leaders of both the PPP and PML-Q disclosed.
For the two parties to realise their dreams, the role of the PML-Q forward bloc, with over 45 members, will be key to any political realignment in Punjab, which could be a big catalyst for more political upheavals elsewhere, including at the centre.
The sources said that after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the situation had improved for the Chaudhrys, who are now in a position to tighten the noose around the dissidents, especially those violating the party line. “In case of defiance, they can end up being disqualified by the party head as per the new clauses inserted in the 18th Amendment,” a PML-Q leader asserted.
But what lands the Chaudhrys in difficulty is that the clauses that empower party heads to suggest action against dissidents are likely to take effect with the new assemblies, which would come into existence after fresh elections.
The party would have to resort to legal course against the dissidents the need arises. Hence, all eyes set on the Lahore High Court and the replacement for Justice Sharif. As for the future cooperation between the PPP and PML-Q, it was learnt that although the Chaudhrys had an offer from the PPP to join the federal government, they were more interested in the stewardship of Punjab, and nothing short of the Punjab chief ministers’ slot would be acceptable.
Sources said the PPP and the PML-Q leaders went public about their newfound cooperation only after reaching an understanding. Another important factor will be the role of the establishment in future moves made by the PPP and PML-Q leaders against the Sharifs.
“If the establishment is on board and willing to pull the strings where needed, it will not be difficult to win back the custody of the members of the forward bloc,” remarked a senior politicians, which implied that the establishment was pretty much neutral so far.