The election, especially
It is clear, especially since Nawaz Sharif raised the temperature with his Mumbai-attackers comment, that the PML-N has decided to rally behind its Quaid for life. And since the party has still not come up with a proper election manifesto, analysts and onlookers should be forgiven for assuming that Nawaz’s one-point agenda – of maligning state institutions – is also going to form core party policy heading into the election. With only two months left, Shahbaz Sharif will have to move very quickly if he wants to shake that perception, otherwise Nawaz would have succeeded in imposing himself upon the party campaign despite being disqualified for life.
PTI has taken the initiative with regard to a structured election campaign. Its eleven points, however debatable, at least give people something to vote for or against. PML-N rallies, by contrast, have yet to move beyond badmouthing just about everything under the sky. PPP, too, has begun moving away from the accusations-only phase of campaigning, though anything resembling a proper manifesto is still nowhere on the horizon. Of the main parties it is only PML-N that has yet to find its feet.
The party has revolved around Nawaz from the moment of his ouster. Even with the deck stacked against him, Nawaz can count on Shahbaz Shairf as well as PM Abbasi to do his bidding, no matter what the cost to the party, or the country for that matter. But since Nawaz is not expected to escape the corruption cases without a sentence, and the party must look to the future, perhaps an intervention from Shahbaz is around the corner. Going forward, the ruling party cannot just devote all its energies towards protecting, and projecting, a person already removed from the political scene, forever, by the courts. At present, it looks as if PML-N is headed for a collision, not an election.