For all of PML-N’s chest-thumping, Prime Minister Abbasi’s proposal about forming a truth and reconciliation commission, a day after Nawaz Sharif asked for a national commission, allegedly to weed out traitors from the country’s institutions, is a non-starter. For one thing, what sort of a commission would the ruling party agree to considering how it has reacted to the Supreme Court ruling that disqualified Nawaz? For another, do they realise that any such commission would have to probe matters beyond Nawaz’s statement about the Mumbai attackers. And since ‘Quaid for life’ has been consistently unable to answer for his large list of assets abroad, there’s a good chance that any commission digging the truth will arrive at the same conclusion as the SC.
Then there’s more – a lot more. How will Nawaz feel, for example, when the asked-for commission reaches questions raised in the Asghar Khan case? Opening this Pandora’s Box, so late in the game and just because Nawaz got the axe for corruption, is more likely to put the spotlight on the PML-N leadership more than any other major player of the last three decades. And how will he champion ‘power of the vote’ when his own baby steps in politics, so ably guided by Gen Zia’s political machinery, are brought to the fore once more after all these years?
These calls for forming commissions, as well as threats to spill the beans about the 2014 dharna, etc, are clearly tactics meant to divert the criticism snowballing towards the ruling party since Nawaz’s controversial statement. Yet even if Abbasi succeeds in controlling the damage – even though it is getting harder with time – he’d still be pushing the party in a dangerous direction this close to the election. Also, judging by news reports, it seems Shahaz Sharif, as new party president, is not too far from laying down some red lines for the rest of the campaign. Instead of taking the House for a ride, the prime minister should help his new party president and bring some sort of order to the campaign.