Taking big risks

Mian Nawaz Sharif seems to be unable to leave alone his 2018 removal

PML(N) Supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif seems to be harking back to his original narrative demanding that those who had removed him from office in 2017 be held accountable. When still in exile before his return to Pakistan this year, he had even demanded that action be taken against two ex-generals, two former CJPs and a serving Supreme Court judge. However, his brother, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, had headed to London post-haste to persuade him not to take up cudgels against the establishment. Mian Nawaz seemed amenable, and said he had come back to rescue the economy. That was interpreted as his readiness to stay off turf the establishment did not want him to go. In his latest statement, made to the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he has painted his tenure in bright hues, and linked his ouster to the loss of prosperity.

It is almost as if he is trying out a new narrative. The assumption is that the PTI messed up the economy, and Mian Nawaz is being brought back to office because he is the only figure foreign investors trust. He is linking his ability to fix the economy with those who had failed and who had conspired to oust him. He may well be trying out a narrative of the campaign trail, because so far, he does not seem to have one to replace that of taking up from where he left off in 2018.

The fact that he is in search of a narrative does not mean that he has not been picked to be the next PM. However, it shows that this selection is accompanied by all the trappings of election campaigning. However, Mian Nawaz seems to be engaging in a high-risk strategy. Even while trying not to, he is likely to ruffle feathers in quarters that count. It might cause them to switch their eggs from the PML(N) basket to the PPP’s, especially since the PPP is particularly receptive, feeling it was hard done-by, being used to oust Mr Imran Khan as PM, but not given its due share in the post-February 9 set-up.

It had been predicted that Mian Nawaz would move against those who ousted him in 2017 only after he was elected PM. While it is not beyond the realm of possibility for him to have made the statement with deliberation and premeditation, the chances are that it was perhaps put more strobly that he himself would have liked. There is also the possibility that he was merely testing the waters, so as to find out how he could go.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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