ISLAMABAD: Another NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance] -like deal looks to be in the offing for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family amid reports that the father-daughter duo are set to travel to London to see the ailing former first lady, Kulsoom Nawaz.
The past week has brought some breakthroughs for the ruling family after Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif reportedly held two, back-to-back, clandestine meetings with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Though the army’s chief spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor has contradicted reports about the recent meetings between the junior Sharif and army chief, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) did not do so, lending a semblance of legitimacy to the reports.
Ever-active media cells of the party, including social media outlets, also did not deny that these meetings took place.
Nawaz and Maryam have also changed their tone and tenor since the past week as both have cut down their criticism of the armed forces and judiciary, which continued in the past eight months without any break.
Moreover, news coming from London suggests that Nawaz and Maryam would soon leave to meet Kulsoom Nawaz as her health has deteriorated recently. This provides an opportunity to the deposed PM and his daughter to take a break from the political stage, giving Shehbaz Sharif the space to restore ties with the military establishment.
While many PML-N leaders contacted to comment on the developing situation refused to divulge any information, a senior PML-N leader, on condition of anonymity, said that it was surprising to see the muted tone of Nawaz and Maryam at a time when the cases against the ruling family are entering a critical stage of consolidation.
“No one in the party knows what is cooking but word is that Shehbaz Sharif has held two successive meetings with the army chief and later had a detailed hours-long meeting with his older brother. Later, Shehbaz left for London. It’s quite clear that some serious proposals are being discussed at the highest levels,” he said.
The PML-N leader said that there has been a conscious effort by Nawaz, Maryam and other hawks in the party to avoid criticism of state institutions and instead train guns on the opposition parties – a strategy advocated by Shehbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar for almost a year.
“This also shows that Shehbaz Sharif has been able to convince his brother to show some flexibility for a ‘deal’ with the quarters concerned,” he said.
However, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed was of the opinion that the Sharifs would not been able to secure any sort of ‘NRO’ this time around.
“Whatever they do, they can’t get another NRO this time. Mark my words, their time is over,” said the veteran politician who is considered to be very close to the General Headquarters (GHQ).
Commenting on the reports of meetings between Shehbaz and Gen Bajwa, Rasheed said, “Whatever they do, they will not get a deal from the army this time around.”
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