LAHORE - It is almost certain now that Dera Ghazi Khan’s feudal Sardar Zulfikar Ali Khan Khosa and his sons are no longer with the PML-N. The chances for their reconciliation with the party leadership are over. It was being expected that Mian Nawaz Sharif will make some effort to resolve the differences between the Punjab chief minister – who is younger brother of the former prime minister – and Dost Muhammad Khosa, the son of Zulfikar Khosa, which are the root cause of a crisis-like situation in the party. However, Mr Sharif’s decision to leave for Saudi Arabia on about a two-week stay there without meeting with Mr Khosa has dampened hopes for a patch-up.

The arrogance of both sides is responsible for the crisis and both sides will ultimately suffer. The claims that the PML-N will find a better replacement of the Khosa family and the Khosa family will also get adjusted in some other party are not well founded.

The Khosas departure will cause more psychological damage to the party than in actual terms. True that nobody is indispensable, the timing of the rift doesn’t suit the party.

The PML-N has already a weaker position in South Punjab, which was weakened further when veteran leader Javed Hashmi parted ways with it. On the other hand, the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf is emerging as a potent force in the region. The PPP has also considerable following in the region, which is trying to get the status of a separate province.

Thus, at a time when the PML-N was required to take steps to strengthen its position in a zone which was slipping out of its hands, Khosas goodbye doesn’t augur well. The inauguration of projects worth billions of rupees in a single day in South Punjab by the Punjab chief minister a few days ago is sufficient to expose the PML-N’s desperation. The differences could have been settled, but perhaps the egos of the two sides were the major impediment. They could not scale the Everest of egos.

The reason is understandable. Zulfiklar Khosa is a feudal, whose arrogance went sky high when he was given unimaginable importance in the party. And when one of his sons was made the Punjab chief minister and the other an MNA, the Khosas further grew in stature. At present Khosa Sr is a Senator, two of his sons are MPAs and one MNA.

When the PML-N leadership put all their ‘political eggs’ in one basket, it appeared as if the party had no other family in South Punjab to rely upon.

People touch the knees of Khosa Sr as a mark of respect when they meet him. And so particular he is about his protocol that after the 2008 elections he did not like to be called ‘Khosa’. And if someone addressed him with this title, he lost temper. “I am Sardar Zulfikar Ali Khan Khosa, not Khosa Sahib,” he would say. If someone wanted to call him by a single name, he would prefer to be called ‘Sardar Sahib’.

Such a person hopes that everybody will visit him at his residence and touch his knees before starting the conversation.

As the crisis in the party was going on, he was expecting that Mian Nawaz Sharif would come to his DHA residence, listen to his ‘grievances’ and then find a solution to the problem.

But Mr Sharif is also not behind any one when ego is a consideration.

The PML-N president is surrounded by people who always praise him for whatever he does, or will do. Some will not miss the opportunity to point out how he looks like in the dress he is wearing at the time. These sycophants have made Mr Sharif believe that he is infallible. And a person who is praised day in a day out for his marvellous leadership qualities has little tolerance for criticism.

His younger brother – the Punjab chief minister – is even more sensitive on the subject. All those close to him know the likes and dislikes of their leader and they don’t say anything which may annoy him.

In such a situation, what Dost Muhammad Khosa said about the Punjab chief minister was simply intolerable.

Khosa Jr had said at a news conference and then in a TV interview that the Punjab chief minister was behind the registration of a case of abduction/murder of his former wife against him and the allegation that he took away with him articles worth Rs 4 million from his official residence.

He alleged that the chief minister had got highlighted this matter in the media only to deflect attention from the issue of his ‘daughter-in-law’, an obvious reference to the controversy going on between his son and Ayesha Malik.

He was also critical of the chief minister for the failure of the Sasti Roti Scheme, Mechanical Tandoors Scheme. He had reservations about claims of a corruption-free Punjab or good governance.

Replying to a question, Khosa Jr alleged that the PML-N leadership had given most of the party offices to family members.

The chief minister, or somebody else in the party, should have answered these allegations. But perhaps the ego of the PML-N leadership did not allow him to do this.

As a result, the gulf between the Sharifs and the Khosas has widened further.