Adopting a new approach with a new role
While the red carpet was out for Shahbaz Sharif’s first visit to Karachi as the new PML-N party president courtesy the governor of the city there is a growing instability below the surface of the ruling party. After the Supreme Court’s decision to bar for life any person disqualified under Article 62 (1) (f) from holding public office there remains no doubt that Nawaz Sharif’s political career is over. That leaves Shahbaz Sharif who is rarely out of his comfort zone as Punjab CM – a job he has made his own – with the responsibility to steer his brother’s party out of some very choppy waters and quick.
That not only entails gearing up for the upcoming general elections but also retaining the electable candidates still with the party at a time when those looking from the outside in are weighing their options while waiting for an opportune moment to jump ship. The recent resignations of Baluchistan and South Punjab MNA’s and MPA’s indicate it is now time for damage control. So now a severely delayed effort is afoot to gather support and regain the lost confidence of party workers in provinces other than home ground Punjab.
First stop was KP a week back where apart from making the obligatory comparison to Lahore and a promise to execute similar development there a disgruntled PTI MNA joined the N-league. In Karachi yesterday the agenda was the same – boosting the morale of workers who had been pretty much left to their own devices for the better part of the PML-N’s four years in power and possibly to gain an MNA or two after meeting dissident groups from opposition parties.
Shahbaz Sharif now has to approach his new role from the perspective of the federation rather than having a Punjab-only outlook on matters. There is little evidence to suggest that he can effectively navigate through the minefield that is the federal government and internal party politics. It has to be all hands on deck from here on out if the party aims to secure another term – an outcome that is become increasingly unlikely.