Dost Muhammad Khosa is a prudent and calculated rebel. For the last two and a half years he has silently bided his time on the sidelines like a seasoned hunter. The loss of love and respect between Shahbaz Sharif and Dost Muhammad Khosa was no secret. In days of yore, he was the choice of the Sharifs when they needed someone to warm the chief minister’s seat. The Khosas and the Sharifs were so close that the House of Raiwind preferred Dost over those within the family for the chief minister seat. This might have been due to the sterling relationship between Sirdar Zulfiqar Khosa and Nawaz Sharif.
When Khosa stepped down for Shahbaz Sharif he got a plum ministry in that Local Government Department affords great political influence and cash on minister’s disposal. It was smooth sailing. Then tongues began to wag. There was talk of complaints against Khosa on the manner in which funds were being spent. The relationship went south as the chief minister reportedly stopped talking to or even acknowledging the younger Khosa.
What was even more painful was that Shahbaz Sharif started issuing orders directly to the local government secretary. Khosa threatened on several occasions to resign but the sagacity of the elder Khosa saved the day, time and time again.
After PPP ministers resigned, cabinet portfolios were reshuffled. Khosa got commerce only after Nawaz Sharif intervened on his behalf. Khosa saw it as slap in the face.
He stopped attending cabinet meetings and assembly sessions. His defiance irked Shahbaz Sharif. Stories about his personal life surfaced in the media. The disappearance of his actor wife forced Khosa to obtain pre-arrest bail. The political damage had been done.
“I know who was behind the media witch-hunt against me,” Khosa told The Express Tribune in the lobby of Punjab Assembly yesterday. “I would not call it a permanent parting of ways. … The matter will be decided in the court of Nawaz Sharif,” he said. He appeared to be leading a group of seven members who sat on separate benches upstairs. They were Taj Khanzada of Attock, Nawab Shams of Choa Saidan Shah, Kazim Pirzada of Bahawalpur, Humaira Awais Shahid, Shamsa Gohar, Farah Deeba and Arifa Khalid. Except for Humair Shahid who is from PML-Q, the MPAs are from PML-N.
“The group will expand whenever I want it to expand,” said Khosa. “I don’t know if it is a final parting of the ways but now we’ll not keep silent.”
The timing of this forward bloc is perfect. They have nothing to lose as in a few weeks time the caretakers are expected to take over from what it sees as the government. The group has clearly distanced itself from the unpopular policies of the Sharif government. For Khosa the move makes the most sense as he can now try to lead the popular cause of south Punjab.
“My decision to sit on a separate seat has my father’s blessing,” said Khosa. However, for the rest of the group, the decision reflects personal grievances rather than any political agenda. The much awaited forward bloc of the PML-N finally emerges.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.