Every war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy
After a series of leadership meetings the PML-N has taken important decisions about its future line of action. Tentative agreements have been reached on issues posing threats to party unity. The prospect of the opening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case has made Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza realize that they too could face disqualification. This seems to have put curbs on the race for power between the two branches of the Sharif family making consensus building easier. Instead of rivalry, solidarity was considered the best way for self-preservation. It was realized that the PML-N was no more a monolith and desertions could not be stopped in the presence of leadership rivalries.
To bring down the level of demoralisation in the party it was decided that Nawaz Sharif would himself lead the party into the election fray. The PMLN would compete with, if not outperform the PTI, in holding public meetings. The Abbotabad rally would be followed by a series of public gatherings addressed by Sharif in KP and Punjab.
To accommodate the doves who are in the same boat with the party hawks after the prospect of the revival of the Hudaibiya case it was decided to shun direct confrontation with the institutions. It was however noted that the party was within its right to criticize court judgments which it considered unjust without targeting individual judges. Whether the PML-N leaders who lack the necessary finesse would be able to negotiate the tight rope walk remains to be seen.
According to the new consensus Shahbaz Sharif is out of the premiership’s race, for the time being at least. In case the PML-N wins the election, Nawaz Sharif will nominate the next Prime Minister. The party would steer carefully till March to gain decisive majority in the Senate. It will concentrate on getting the issue of the delimitation of constituencies resolved with the help of the PPP to hold timely elections. It is hoped that once majority in both the houses is ensured constitutional changes with retrospective effects could bring Nawaz Sharif out of the woods.