PAKISTAN continues to drift towards intense internal political confrontation, which, if not contained through accommodation, can unravel the current political order. The conflict was triggered by the leaks that named about 210 Pakistanis, including sons of PM, with offshore accounts, financial affairs and holdings of property abroad.
This was an Allah-sent opportunity for Imran Khan to return to the political centre-stage. Imran Khan availed of the Panama leaks to raise the issue of corruption in the higher echelons. The PML-N need not adopt a dismissive attitude towards the PTI. It is unlikely that the impact of the Panama leaks will fade away. The current situation is different from what it was when the PTI launched its 2014 sit-in. With the exception of the JUI-F and the Balochistan-based allies, the PML-N has not got any firm support from others. The PPP is pursuing a two-track policy.
Its Punjab-based leadership wants to take on the PML-N in order to salvage their faltering fortunes in the province but Asif Ali Zardari and some of his Sindh-based loyalists are keeping their options open, hoping that Nawaz Sharif would offer protection to their human assets in Sindh. These may prove to be false hopes because the federal government is not in a position to protect Zardari loyalists. If the PPP decides to side with the PML-N, the PPP’s fate will be completely sealed in Punjab, at least for the next general election. JI has already launched protest for the elimination of corruption.
The Pakistan Awami Tehrik has decided to join the ranks of the opposition on the issue of the Panama Leaks. If these parties and religious groups decide to work together to challenge the PML-N, it will adversely affect the federal government’s capacity to cope with internal security, extremism and terrorism-related issues. Time is the key to the outcome of the current political crisis. The longer it persists and more intense it becomes the better for the opposition. It would be best for the PML-N government to curtail its tempo and find a way out soon.