ISLAMABAD – It was mere rhetoric, prelude to election 2013 campaign. A television talk show, in the words of hurly burly Maulana Attaur Rehman (Maulana Fazlur Rehman's kid brother), as Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kasira did his best to play to the galleries while countering the usual yet more lethal salvo by Opposition Leader Ch Nisar Ali Khan when he took the floor on Monday evening.Nisar was lethal when he tried everyone to believe that PPP government was almost “mute” even when situation on LoC (Pak-India Kashmir divide) needed proactive approach. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khan didn't agree as she sounded formal yet to the point.But Kaira could not take it. First he used 30 minutes straightway to counter even more lengthy speech of the Opposition Leader. Then another 30 plus minutes to refute the brainy Ahsan Iqbal
who tried his best to paint last PPP five years in government the worst in country's history. But Kaira fought back vociferously - no defeat, no surrender.In his fiery streak, he even had the courage to snub treasury members who were approaching Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Asharf in the front. No minister, no member objected. Instead, it earned kudos from legislator sisters of President Zardari who were tucked in rear benches observing the proceedings closely. Mr Talpur, brother-in-law of President Zardari even approached Kaira, in the middle of his speech, for an instant pat on the back. Sitting on Leader of the House chair, the premier Ashraf seemed unmoved.Can anyone guess why Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is not in his usual upbeat mood these days? He wore a broad smile, and beamed an energetic look in the last session. Not anymore. Aides would argue the premier is not that super a human and needs a break from hectic official routine. But from the body language, at least, Monday's appearance of Raja Sahib in the National Assembly seemed emotionless, too plain, a bit indifferent.Official business must be hectic. He landed late in the lower house of the parliament trying his best to wear the same old 'trademark' smile, but seemed indulged in deep thought. Even the lacklustre desk thumping by the treasury added credence to the “conspiracy theory” taking circles in the capital, these days. As soon as he landed in the House, the premier went straight to the seat of Leader of the Opposition Ch Nisar Ali Khan, the flashes of official cameras captured the emotionless hand shake between the two. It seemed a boring formality. Almost all the members on both sides of the political divide know the context fully well.Raja, an upper middle class man from Gujjar Khan, enjoying “lady luck” climbing to the highest post of chief executive of the country right from the second tier of the party rank and file, Nisar, a political and elite big wig from Potohar, treading a continuous but years long struggle to become leader of the opposition, but having almost no chance to clinch top post till the powerful Sharifs rule the roost.In June last year as Raja clinched the post to the utter surprise of his friends and foes, it was Ch Nisar who had termed this decision of the Zardari regime the worst to date. And what not. Things have changed a bit, though Raja may lack the traditional finesse and outlook required in the premier as many would want to see or showcase, but he has been leader of the Lower House and Chief Executive of the country from more than 140 days now. He knows, it may have been prodding from the garrison connections of the famous property tycoon Malik Riaz, who virtually rules Islamabad and parts of Rawalpindi even when Nisar is unchallenged mini-chief minister in Potohar, which helped the incumbent premier in June last to clinch the top government slot, but that was past.Opposition leader has started to live with this reality of the day for he knows it is end of the PPP regime - may be for good. He knows a senior ministerial position is guaranteed to him in case the PML-N comes to power in mid 2013. And he would love to become Punjab chief executive in case Mian Sahbaz Sharif is bored enough with the present assignment - consent of elder Sharif is a must in both the cases.Stakes are however very high for the premier office. Raja stands an outside chance if the PPP returns to power - many say President Zardari has developed fondness for this man from Gujjar Khan who has got no ego problem and can be subservient cum loyalist to the core. Keeping all these estimates and wishful thinking firmly in mind, the premier wants to return triumph from his seat and secure a seat for his brother Raja Imran Ashraf from capital too. He has diverted billions to his constituency prompting Election Commission under Fakhru Bhai to cry foul.But to what end? Raja and close circle of his proponents in the ruling elite know something is cooking up in the Presidential camp - the same powerful group that has virtually taken over the ruling party in the post Benazir Bhutto era. Raja Sahib, we hear, is not happy the way his party boss, country's president and party co-chairperson, is being advised to bring in yet another prime minister even when the tenure of the present assemblies and government remains less than 60 days. May be 10-15 days less if the Zardari government decides to implement its agreement (to utter surprise of its political opponents) with the self styled Sheikhul Islam in letter and spirit.Politically, it may not be beneficial for the incumbent regime to bring in yet another premier at this crucial juncture when caretaker set up is just round the corner, but mood of the apex court in rental power case coupled with the ugly turn the case has taken with the sad demise of the investigating officer, the fury in rank and file of National Accountability Bureau and dwindling defences of its chairman who so far has stood between him and arrest, are enough to send alarm bells ringing in the nook and corner of the Prime Minister House.Though many would tend to disagree, but PPP Chief Whip and an insider of the Zardari regime, and even Qamar Zaman Kaira seem well aware of the background developments as pros and cons of the move are being weighed hundreds if miles away in Karachi where President Zardari is holed up in the quiet Bilawal House, close to the Arabian ocean. Many say Zardari's spiritual Pir wants him to stay away from hills and close to the sea - spirituality cannot be bound with logic. But Raja knows fully well, Deputy Premier Ch Pervaiz Elahi is on his way back after performing Umra pilgrimage. The younger Chaudhry, Punjab chief minister from year 2002-7, has no hidden wish to become premier even for a short stint, like cousin Ch Shujaat Hussain who was a premier for 58 days.