What was meant to build up in coming days into a massive countrywide anti-government campaign by the opposition has fizzled out with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) calling off all its rallies against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government.
According to sources privy to the PML-N’s strategy, the party will devise a new strategy after the federal budget. The Express Tribune has also learnt that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif will travel to London just after the budget, where he will remain till the current political deadlock resolves itself, and a political transition takes place.
Interestingly, the decisions by the PML-N come a few days after the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is reported to have mediated between the government and opposition during his trip.
The Express Tribune had earlier reported that Prime Minister Erdogan has mediated a deal between the government and opposition whereby the former will ensure a smooth and quick transition to a caretaker setup and the eventual stepping down of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, while the latter will take off the pressure and let the budget pass smoothly.
Sources in PML-N told The Express Tribune that Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and some other important leaders called on Nawaz Sharif on Friday, where the protest movement against the prime minister was discussed. It was decided that the remaining scheduled rallies would be cancelled.
The movement was announced soon after the conviction of Prime Minister Gilani in a contempt case by the Supreme Court.
The leaders also discussed the ruling of National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza on the disqualification of Prime Minister Gilani – which will be further discussed in detail in upcoming party meetings.
The sources said that Nawaz has directed party members to cooperate with government in passing the budget. It is pertinent to mention that the PML-N had earlier announced that it would boycott the meeting of the National Economic Council, in the spirit of protest against the current premier. The party had even stopped Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif from participating in the meeting which was presided over by Prime Minister Gilani – however at the eleventh hour Nawaz decided to send Senator Ishaq Dar.
The senator, of course, is considered to be the closest aid of Nawaz, and the main negotiator with the government.
Before his departure for London, Nawaz will make a few speeches, such as the one today (Saturday) at the Supreme Court Bar Association. However, Nawaz will mainly discuss Balochistan and politicization of lawyers. When contacted, PML-N Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan said that the party will soon issue a new schedule of protests.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.