Islamabad, July 31 : Senior PML-N leader and former premier Nawaz Sharif's statement on Tuesday that he will soon be having decisive talks with PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is being debated as an important development in Pakistan politics. While some dismiss it as simple rhetoric (because Nawaz is aware of the fact that parting ways with the PPP would spell a doom for his brother's Punjab government), others are attaching meanings to it saying it might be an end to PPP-PML(N) federal coalition.
Those marking it as just a statement argue that saving their Punjab government was the first priority for the Sharif brother, and, hence, they might not in near future switch over from Zardari to Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan.
According to an editorial in the Daily Times, many analysts, including Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, are of the view that the PML-N will hold on to Punjab at any cost and will, therefore, not rock the boat of the coalition. But, added the editorial, Sharif has already replied by saying that he would not mind sacrificing his Punjab government in the cause of the lawyers.
The question to consider is: will he be able to create another majority in Lahore, and if he cannot do that, is he ready to sit in the opposition while the PPP rides with its erstwhile rival, the PMLQ?, said the editorial.
According to it, the senior leaders in the PMLN are of the opinion that they will have no problem ruling Punjab while sitting in the opposition in Islamabad. They perhaps expect a repeat of the 1990s situation when Nawaz Sharif got the upper hand because of the support his Punjab government received from the Islamabad establishment. But, there are those in the top brass of the party who advise caution, even as some others are spoiling for a fight in which the watching Punjabi crowds already support Sharif overwhelmingly. Zardari has already named these warriors as "spoilers" of the coalition, added the editorial.
It further said that it was the lawyers' movement that stands at the heart of Mr Sharif's political strategy. His popularity graph is greatly boosted by his partisanship in the cause of Mr Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The old APDM, from whose movement he parted by deciding to take part in the 2008 elections, is waiting for him to make his comeback so that they can storm the ramparts of Islamabad together. But, there are aspects of the lawyers' movement that may have to be considered before Zardari is abandoned for Aitzaz Ahsan, said the editorial.