Once a formidable political force the Pakistan Muslim League led by embattled former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif now seems to have lost its hold on togetherness and collectivism that is believed to be a hall-mark of a mature political party.
A cursory look into the recent statements by its leaders presents a sorry spectacle these days. Confusion looms large as one leader says one thing, another says or acts quite the opposite, while a third makes a fickle remark that gives a clear impression of lack of consensus within the rank and file of the party. Divergent political views is no doubt a hall-mark of democracy but when it comes to decision making or a policy statement there has to be complete consensus, unanimity and clarity in thought and approach to deal any particular issue of national importance.
Let’s take the issue of Faizabad, the federal government, under article 245 of the constitution, sought Army’s assistance to end the 21-day long exasperating sit-in. When army negotiated a deal between government and protesters of religious groups the PML-N chief expressed his dismay and criticized the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal for not properly handling the Faizabad sit-in, asking who was behind the Dharna and who settled the terms of the accord reached between the government and Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan. Sharif criticized his own government led by PM Abassi saying that government failed to handle the issue properly. “Who is behind Faizabad dharna, who settled terms of accord”, Sharif asked.
The former interior minister and a senior PML-N leader Ch Nisar Ali Khan, on the other hand, was seen criticizing Ahsan Iqbal for failure to outline a strategy or plans to handle the situation. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah refused to acknowledge the role of army chief or anyone else in the process of mediation between the government and the sit-in protesters. To the contrary, the agreement, which was signed by the protesters and the government representatives, appreciated the army’s role in categorical terms.
So a series of contradictory remarks and statements made by the party’s top leadership over the past couple of days are sufficient enough to guess that all is not well within the party. As the party is going through tough times there are reports of rift with the party cadres so the onus of responsibility of keeping the party intact hugely lies on the shoulders of senior stalwarts who over the past several years have toiled hard in making PML-N a formidable political force of the country. Losing patience and wisdom in testing times is perhaps the biggest tragedy. Political bickering, see-sawing policies and issuing off-the-cuff statements do not really suit a mature political party whose leadership has seen a many crest and troupe during years’ long political journey. Given the prevailing political and security challenges the party leadership must refrain from indulging in confrontational politics having a potential to vitiate the overall political atmosphere in the country. Adhering to the principle of political pragmatism is perhaps the only way to move forward positively.