Days after putting his party on a reconciliatory path, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has made it clear to its leaders that realpolitik would prevail over idealism and its approach would be different in and outside parliament.
Since his release from jail and after taking charge of the party, the former Punjab chief minister first asked the party leaders to hold back the rhetoric and pursue the policy of reconciliation.
The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly has now instructed that the PML-N must work together with the opposition parties in parliament.
“We must co-exist and work together,” a PML-N lawmaker quoted Shehbaz as saying to the leadership while explaining the party’s two sets of politics – one based on practical rather than moral and the other related to ideological considerations.
The PML-N leader said the “doctrine of necessity” was once again fully invoked in the recently held elections for the chairpersonship of the Senate’s standing committees.
All chairpersons were unanimously ‘elected’ just like senators were elected unopposed from Punjab in March this year.
Surprising as it may seem, no polling was held for the 11 Senate seats from Punjab as all candidates for three categories — seven general and two seats each reserved for women and technocrats — were elected unopposed after disqualification and withdrawal of papers by other contestants.
Five seats each went to the ruling PTI and PML-N. The PML-Q, the ruling PTI’s ally in Punjab, grabbed one seat amid the rising political temperature.
The PML-N lawmaker said Shehbaz did not believe in the policy of confrontation and that was why he was trying to separate the ways in which the party reacted to the situation arising in the National Assembly or Senate and outside parliament.
The smooth distribution of committees among the government, the PPP and the PML-N is just another example of politicians sitting together when there is win-win situation for everyone,” he added.
In the elections for the chairpersonship of Senate’s standing committees, he said all parties had amicably divided the committees among them. The government and the opposition then further divided the chairpersonship among their allies in Senate.
“All are happy because everyone got their share,” he said. “That is why there was no dispute over the distribution of committees despite having serious differences that emerged right after the opposition parties locked horns over the coveted seat of the leader of the opposition in Senate,” he added.
Soon after Senate elections, the PPP and the PML-N were at loggerheads over slot of the Senate’s leader of opposition.
The PPP called PML-N a “minority” party in the upper house, saying it would bring its own leader of the opposition in Senate.
It also refused to resign from assemblies, saying it would be tantamount to giving the PTI a “walk-over”.
The PML-N accused the PPP of backtracking from its earlier commitment to give the slot to it after the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman.
This happened after a meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – a 10-party anti-government alliance formed in September 2020 – ending after differences emerged on tendering resignations from the assemblies, the return of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif from London and the defeat of opposition candidates in the election for Senate top slots.
Now, Shehbaz is trying to rebuild the relationship with the PPP and other opposition parties since his return on the political scene. This was evident when he left the party’s parliamentary meeting when PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari came to meet him in his chamber before the budget session.
Later, they both arrived together in the National Assembly amid desk-thumping by the opposition benches.
Since the PDM is inactive and lost its steam, party insiders say the right choice for the PML-N is to take the reconciliatory route and try avoiding an extreme approach.
The PML-N leaders had earlier said Shehbaz asked them to prepare the party for the next general elections instead of locking horns with establishment by issuing unnecessary statements.