ISLAMABAD - Political storm began placating on Wednesday after Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif reportedly offered to step down to calm down Dr Tahirul Qadri on the Model Town killings, paving way for Sharifs’ loyalist MPA Raja Ashfaq Sarwar as the front-runner to become Leader of the House in Punjab Assembly.
Well-placed sources told The Nation that the Punjab chief minister made this proposition to the prime minister and other senior party colleagues as a last resort to wriggle out the crisis that was shaped up by Imran Khan and Qadri to kick out the PML-N from power.
The move comes after Imran and Qadri made it a sticking demand that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has to step down, and made it their top demand to rid of Sharifs that led to immense pressure on Sharifs and their party governments at the Centre and Punjab. According to the reported deal, Shahbaz would step down to clear his position over the allegation that he was personally involved in the killing of 14 PAT workers in Lahore on June 17.
The move also came after rumours hit the Federal Capital during the past few days that powerful Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was the likely nominee of the PML-N for next Leader of the House in the National Assembly. This move prompted the Sharifs and their loyalists in the PML-N to take a consensus decision that Prime Minister Sharif would not resign.
Consequently, Nisar had to swallow the bitter pill and reconciled with Sharifs with the assurance that he would be their party’s nominee for the Leader of the House post in the National Assembly if PML-N emerged as victor in any future elections. Argument for this move was that since Nawaz would not be eligible under the constitution for fourth term as Chief Executive, therefore, Nisar would have bright chances to be nominated as PML-N candidate for Leader of the House. Sources in the opposition parties did not rule out the possibility that the ruling PML-N would attempt for a constitutional amendment at a later stage of its rule to do away with the constitutional restraint in order to pave way for Nawaz to go for fourth term whenever his party returns to power in future.
However, after the prevailing political crisis created by Imran Khan and Dr Qadri such a proposition for Prime Minister Sharif has met its untimely death. On the other hand, some sources believed that if the Punjab chief minister steps down, he will also stand bright chances to be nominated as party’s candidate for Leader of the House in the National Assembly in future as he would also not be eligible for fourth time as Punjab’s Chief Executive.
In nutshell, PML-N would stand Nawaz as prime minister come what may and was ready to concede to PTI and PAT demand for their other demands including restructuring of Election Commission of Pakistan, holding of local bodies polls before or after restructuring of the Election Commission and trimming the five-year term of the National Assembly to four years.
The federal government has already constituted 33-member parliamentary committee to bring about sweeping electoral reforms in line with the PTI and PAT demand.
On the other hand, it was learnt that PTI would face serious opposition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where all parliamentary opposition parties including the PML-N have joined hands to pre-empt PTI’s purported move to dissolve the assembly by bringing about a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak.