- Asif’s son wonders about Nawaz’s daughter
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed the hope PML(N) Vice-President Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s silence, and PML(N) President Shahbaz Sharif’s continued absence abroad, are not part of any deal. He would perhaps sounded more credible if he and his party had made a stronger show of opposition amid that silence, and during that absence. As it is, his own party had not provided the JUI(F) more than token support during its recent Long March and left it to its own devices. Only if he had been leading his own party in the fullest and most complete opposition would he have been able to express criticism of the PML(N) leaders. Mr Zardari might find that his own party’s performance, as well as his own, might be subject to similar criticism, after his father, ex-President Asif Zardari, was released on bail.
The possibility of a deal or understanding is equal for both major opposition parties. In recent days, Mr Bhutto Zardari’s own appearance before NAB interrogators in a money laundering case, provide more ammunition to charges that the PPP is angling for relief. Mr Bhutto Zardari in Parliament has most recently engaged in lowering the tone of the House by his struggles with PTI legislators. While he may well argue that he didn’t start it, the fact remains that he was involved.
Pakistani politics may well be passing to another generation, as the late Benazir Bhutto’s son speculates about Nawaz Sharif’s daughter. However, remaining relevant to the country’s politics does not mean sniping at the other. That should be best left to the PTI, which is more than equal to the task. At the same time, Mr Bhutto Zardari’s remarks should also be seen in the context of the murkiness and opacity created in national politics by the possibility of the leaders of one opposition party or the other doing a deal in order to obtain some relief from imprisonment, not merely with the government, but with the establishment as a whole. Mr Bhutto Zardari’s remarks sound like the virulent, no-holds-barred antagonism of the 20th century; he might well remember that he and Ms Sharif are supposed to be 21st century politicians, and those remarks would enthuse an increasingly geriatric audience.