LAHORE - Various political leaders have consistently been alleging that the PML-N and PPP leaders are two faces of the same base coin.The accusers mean that no matter what the posturing of the leaders of the two parties, in reality they are one and the same thing. They are feathers of the same flock. However, some people disagree with this opinion and say the two parties are ideological rivals, with nothing in common.To reach the truth, let’s have a look at the proceedings of the ground-breaking ceremony of a coal-fired power project, performed jointly by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari, in Thar on Friday.A widely-circulated Urdu language newspaper reported: “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that his role and that of (former president) Asif Ali Zardari should be model (for others).“The political leadership is united. Maybe our unity is not liked by some people. We recognised the PPP’s mandate whole-heartedly; now Mr Asif Ali Zardari has accepted our mandate whole-heartedly. Today, we’ll have to pledge that, making a departure from the obsolete (unenviable) past political traditions, we’ll promote unity. Feuds, disputes and the habit of catching the rivals by the collar and advancing politics at the cost of national issues, should be made a thing of the past.”“Former president Asif Ali Zardari said on the occasion that the nation would have to work under the leadership of Mian Nawaz Sharif for the sake of progress of the country. He assured the prime minister that nobody from the PPP, including Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, will issue any statement against the government’s initiative for talks with the Taliban”.Apparently, what the two leaders said sounds very sweet. But not many people can understand at what cost this sweet talking. Not long ago, the Sharif brothers were painting Mr Zardari as the most corrupt leader of the country. Mian Nawaz Sharif assured the nation many a time that after returning to power for a third time he would bring back to Pakistan the $60 million of Mr Zardari’s ill-gotten money from the Swiss banks.The younger brother, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, was even more hostile towards Asif Ali Zardari. As Punjab chief minister during his previous tenure, he has been addressing rallies to demand that Mr Zardari step down as the head of state.Umpteen times he called Mr Zardari as Ali Baba and his companions as 40 thieves. He also declared in categorical terms that he did not recognise Mr Zardari as the president. Once Mr Zardari came to Lahore and there was nobody from the Punjab government to receive him at the airport or send him off.Although this attitude amounted to insulting the highest constitutional office of the country, Shahbaz Sharif never regretted his vitriolic attacks.But Mr Zardari is also second to none as far as politics of hypocrisy is concerned.At the Thar ceremony, he handed over a Sindhi cap and an ajrak to the prime minister with the request that the same be delivered to “my younger brother” Shahbaz Sharif.Superfluous to point out that Mr Zardari calls Mian Nawaz Sharif as his elder brother.By now, Ali Baba’s gifts must have been delivered to his younger brother. But there are no reports that he refused to receive the same. The Sharifs helped Zardari complete his constitutional term. And now the PPP leadership will reciprocate.  It will not create any problem for the PML-N government, no matter how badly it fails to deliver.There is also no possibility of the PML-N government taking any step to bring Mr Zardari’s Swiss money back to Pakistan.  And the PPP leaders will not call upon the Sharifs to bring their assets abroad back to Pakistan.This is an excellent example of mutual back-scratching.Many say that the PPP and the PML-N are determined to alternate each other in power, leaving no room for any third party. This approach should be a matter for serious concern for the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf in particular, which plans to change the destiny of the country. Carving out a role in the presence of such giants, who can sacrifice principles for expediency, will not be an easy task.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 02-Feb-2014 here.