Joint Opp likely to unite against PTI with Nawaz back in the game     


ISLAMABAD: The federal and provincial governments led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are likely to have a tough time in the coming days as the joint opposition parties may unite against the government following the release of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from Adiala jail on bail in the Avenfield properties case.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday ordered Nawaz’s release, along with his daughter and son-in-law, in the Avenfield illegal assets reoference. The IHC judgement has not only provided a much-needed legal relief to the former prime minister and his family, it has also brought about a political rejuvenation.

Political analysts believe that the former premier would try to meet as many political leaders as he could to muster maximum political support.

In wake of the sympathy wave created out of the recent demise of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the IHC verdict would provide another opportunity to Nawaz to energize the workers of his Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) across Punjab and other provinces and consolidate his hold over the party. He would also find himself able to prove that he was a victim of a political witch hunt.

This can give a new lease of life not only to the PML-N but also to those political outfits which had suffered defeat in the recently held general elections.

From Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) to Pashtun and Baloch ethno-political parties, all nationalists are likely to gather under PML-N’s banner.

Being a shrewd political strategist, Nawaz Sharif is capable of launching a massive political campaign if he is acquitted from the NAB cases in the near future. If Sharif goes for another GT Road like rally, a new anti-government political movement would be on the cards in next two years’ time which may add to the political woes of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Though Maryam Nawaz would not be able to contest elections in the immediate future, her presence and her social media team would provide enough impetus to Nawaz for gaining maximum political momentum.

Challenges for the government on the legal front are likely to grow too, while the opposition parties may only yield more influence and may bounce back sooner than later. If Sharifs win another court battle, the ground would be ripe for any long march.

In such a case, there is a strong possibility that the PML-N and PPP would be sharing the stage in a two years’ time as the opposition would smell blood.

In such an eventuality, there are high chances that the PTI-led government would make some political follies which would provide more ground to the opposition. If such a scenario builds, it is highly likely that a joint political movement might be launched in the next few years.

Since National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor general and his team have failed miserably in proving their case against the Sharifs, the PTI would also be facing more humiliation in future court proceedings if the legal team of the government is not strengthened and reviewed.

The NAB prosecutor general has been an utter embarrassment for the government and NAB itself throughout the court hearings. Wajid Zia, the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which probed the Panama case against Sharifs, has equally provided enough meat to Khawaja Haris and his legal team to expose legal flaws and glaring lacunae in the case against Sharifs.

The initiation of money laundering case against former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has already opened the possibilities of a future alliance between the two parties. Despite the recent gulf between the PPP and PML-N, the return of Nawaz Sharif would increase chances of a new opening between the two parties.

On the economic side, the PTI government is already facing a huge challenge and there is no immediate relief in sight for the prime minister’s team. If the premier and his economic team are able to win significant economic support from Saudi Arabia and UAE, there may be some immediate relief in the economic logjam the country is facing.

However, there is a likelihood that the government would have to take more unpopular decisions which would provide ample ground for the opposition parties to yield influence among the people at large.

Moreover, challenges on the political front are also increasing as some of the government allies have also become unhappy with some of the decisions taken by the prime minister.

The recent decision to grant nationality to the Afghan and Bengali migrants born in Pakistan has added fuel to the fire. Besides the Baloch nationalist parties, who have suffered a defeat in recently held elections, some PTI allies have also expressed their anger over the decision.

While Akhtar Mengal’s party – Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) – has announced to sit on the opposition benches in case Imran Khan goes ahead with his decision, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) chief and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan has also expressed his displeasure over the announcement.

Imran Khan, however, dropped a hint of reviewing his decision during his speech in the National Assembly that the parliament would decide the fate of the migrants born in Pakistan.

While the IHC verdict has brought respite for the Sharif family, the next few months and years are going to be tough for the PTI government, which would be a major test for the political and economic acumen and patience of Imran Khan and his team.