What forced Shahbaz Sharif to spill out his juicy secrets?
By Shaheen Sehbai
It could obviously be disappointment, broken promises, a last straw by his brother on his back or just sheer and simple desperation. But after his surprising, and hasty, return from London, just when flights to and from Pakistan were about to be grounded, the junior Sharif was probably hoping that things would move quickly and he would start seeing some quid pro quo or whatever he was promised by the “powerful circles” that he admitted he had been meeting in the darkness of nights.
But Coronavirus had taken over everything by that time and he was hilariously forced to sit alone, at six-feet distance from his laptop, with a face mask, talking to his party leaders, many of whom were not sure whether to listen to him or wait for signals from his big brother in London or his ambitious daughter Maryam in Raiwind.
What he heard from his party colleagues, many openly and some quietly in different camps within the party, the junior Sharif lost his cool and decided to punch and pressure the people he had been talking to.
It was a seemingly smart way to put out his challenging thoughts publicly through a newspaper columnist, who wrote it in a manner that the blame of leaking private talks would ultimately not go to Shahbaz Sharif but the writer would take the brunt, if push comes to shove.
Yet the message was clear and what he said was informative and revealing to the extent that many analysts thought by doing so he had shut the backyard doors of Rawalpindi neighbourhoods where he used to meet the powerful.
There were many key pieces of information and confessions that Shahbaz Sharif deliberately spelled out through his friendly media proxy:
- That he had been in secret talks and negotiations with powerful people (everyone knows who), up to one month before the 2018 general elections and was discussing options that would plainly be called as “conspiracies against the constitution.”
- That it had almost been agreed to that he, meaning Shahbaz Sharif, would be the next prime minister, no matter how that happens and who makes it happen. The negotiations, in his view, had progressed to the stage that the two sides were even discussing the names of his imaginary and presumptive future cabinet.
- That while it had been discussed and arranged for him to be the next king, his own big brother became the proverbial villain and refused to give up the absurd narrative of “Vote ko izzat do”. Probably the powerful circles asked him if they were to “respect the vote” then why was he wasting their time in secret meetings discussing post-election scenarios.
- That his big brother asked him at least six times to take over the prime minister’s position from him but every time he refused saying or thinking that he could not stab his brother in the back or his tummy.
- That he had discussed with his big brother, along with his two sons in London, to decide who will be the crown prince of the PML throne — Maryam Safdar or Hamza Shahbaz. Of course that critical issue had to be decided before he would fly into the red-zone of intrigues in Islamabad. (Get lost comment)
- That the heart problems of his big brother were patently fake or not, so threatening as Nawaz Sharif had declared that he would not return to Pakistan until the Corona problems was eradicated from the earth.
Analysing all these extremely amusing statements could be fun for any comedian but politics is a serious business and telling a lie here or spitting against the wind there, is just a common practice, not to bother about.
The contradictions and confessions cannot, however, be ignored.
His first and second statements are a confession, at least on his side that he was in illegal and unconstitutional talks with undemocratic forces to sabotage the results of an upcoming election and was fixing the match.
Obviously the other side will not admit it but the junior Sharif has. That may probably shut the doors of these people to him in future, as he had proved irresponsible.
Why he did so can be argued but the obvious explanation can be that either these powerful guys were just joking around with him or they were doing their job of sneaking into the thought processes of politicians for drawing up their own future national political strategies. That they did not mean what they were saying or promising was and has now become obvious.
How this self-incriminating confession of Sharif plays out in future is to be seen but it certainly is not going to help him.
The third point that the big brother’s narrative ruined his conspiracy confirms months of speculations that the two brothers were involved in a power struggle and were secretly trying to grab power, ignoring each other.
The often-repeated theory that they were playing good cop, bad cop, also expires, as according to Shahbaz, his big bro did not allow him to go ahead with the deal that he thought he had already negotiated with the secret powers. So what was the policy of good cop, bad cop about if the two brothers were not ready to agree on a deal?
The disclosure that Nawaz offered him the PM slot six times is baloney, only to impress his disgruntled followers in Pakistan. How would it be a knife in the back if the king was himself insisting to give up his throne for his brother, not once but six times. The reality would be that Shahbaz wanted it but Nawaz would not oblige.
The claim that he took his sons to Nawaz for getting a decision on whether Maryam or Hamza would lead the party exposes and confirms the on-going inner power battles within the family.
The response Shahbaz got from Nawaz is even more telling. Shahbaz claims that he was told that Nawaz would decide this issue when he returns to Pakistan after his medical treatment in London. In other words he was told to “get lost” and don’t raise this again, which means Hamza Shahbaz has no chance of ever beating Maryam in this race.
How this inner family struggle would play out can only be guessed because now Hamza and Maryam would find it hard to reconcile as it is also not clear when their corruption cases and jail woes would end to ever let them play a leading role in politics, if at all.
The final point Shahbaz disclosed about the return of Nawaz to Pakistan and linking it to the eradication of Coronavirus looks like his revenge against his brother because this demolishes the entire theory of a serious heart ailment of Nawaz, notwithstanding the hullabaloo over his Platelets count and the antics of his family doctor.
Saying that Nawaz will return only when Corona is eliminated means that may not happen and thus Nawaz will stay in isolation in London.
It may also be an attempt by Shahbaz to complain meekly that he was also tricked into giving legal guarantees to the higher court for the release of Nawaz when Nawaz knew and was sure that once he was out of Pakistan he was not coming back.
So now Shahbaz will sooner than later confront the courts about the bail bonds and guarantees that he gave and if an angry judge in a bad mood heard that case, Shahbaz could be paying some penalties.
But all these desperate claims, confessions and statements have left the PML leaders in Pakistan totally confused and bewildered, not knowing whether to believe the elder brother or the junior and where to go from here.
As these internal problems have exploded into public view, the Opposition as such is scattered, confused. On the other hand so many good news coming from all sides for the government, like deferred loan payments of billions of dollars, additional IMF funds, record low oil prices, have demoralized the leaders.
The Corona has on the other hand limited their capacity to protest in public, gather for indoor meetings and show their strength on the streets and even get hours of media time as they used to get before.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is fighting the virus but it appears that many natural and super-natural powers have helped him and he is now in a mood to take on all the corrupt, within and outside his party.