ISLAMABAD - Was it impact of the close door government briefing or of-late realisation in the Insafiyan camp that the seemingly uncontrollable NATO supply blockade related rhetoric of Imran Khan finally got a reality check? There were no fire works as the firebrand PTI supremo stood up to address the National Assembly immediately after the Interior Minister on Monday evening. Perhaps, Chaudhrys Nisar’s sincerity to the peace cause, or his spade work, has worked wonders that Imran sounds agreeing to almost all his Taliban talks line — thanks to the notes they exchange, secretly and silently.

Both agree that peace talks are the only option left for this country no matter how rigid the TTP becomes with new leader Mullah Fazlullah. Both agree that any new Army operation in Tribal Areas (north Waziristan as per American wishes) will be recipe for disaster. And American drones must stop to kick-start a meaningful dialogue process with TTP. The duo, in yet another surprising similarity, is utterly allergic to the criticism from a section of Press for labelling them “Taliban friendly”.

The disagreeing part is all about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s alleged soft tone against the ‘arrogant Americans’ Khan thinks should be hardened as powerful head of the government. But Sharif knows his limits well when it comes to state-to-state relations and such diplomatic intricacies.

On its part,, the PML-N stalwarts will be happily content with such a criticism on the Premier for they know this was the maximum a democratically elected Premier of a developing country could deliver with a dwindling economy and worse law and order scenario tieing both his hands.

Ask any League big wig on the government benches and he will be frank enough to tell that the firebrand Khan has little stakes as compared with Sharif. Ground realities coupled with persuasion (by Garrison friends) have, however, bound Imran not to sacrifice his thin majority KP government while pursuing a national political cum-foreign policy issue.

For now, it seems the PTI and allies are all set to block the NATO supply route for a day or two, symbolically. And that too through its political workers, KP provincial administrative machinery will be there for security purpose only.

Khan himself sounded dejected while spelling out reasons behind his toned down NATO supply blocked call. Only the “son of Rawalpindi” dared to stand and announce full support for his “one man Army” for this national cause.

With a surprise return to the national legislature owing to PTI factor after facing two back-to-back defeats, Rashid is in a pay back mode. Seemingly bored with his repeated television performances, he wants to be in the agitation mode, which used to be his hallmark before joining garrison bandwagon in Musharraf era.

Rest is Jamaat-e- Islami, Imran’s KP coalition partners. Aftab Sherpao, is still holding cards close to his chest. His party may be part of the KP government, but politically he seems pursuing independently. Keeping this scenario in mind, Imran did not utter it bluntly, but almost everyone in his PTI bandwagon knew that rest of the Opposition bandwagon — PPP, MQM, ANP, JUI-F – were not ready to act as supportive actors in this lead role venture of Khan.

This wasn’t a drone related documentary or an address to the National Assembly where the Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah will readily agree to allow him Opposition Leader’s prerogative to respond to an opening speech by the Interior minister. This is real time on ground politics where rest of the Opposition parties don’t want him to dominate, at any cost. Already the PPP is feeling heat of the post May election results which fetched it the Opposition Leader’s slot in Lower House, but PTI is always a step or two away from de-seating it any time provided it strikes a ceasefire with Altaf Bhai’s men. On the popular vote front, PTI is ahead of the PPP – a caution signal its leadership now discusses in drawing rooms for now in absence of a quick fix. And Zardari Sb didn’t elevate Khurshid Shah as Opposition Leader in the Lower House keeping this whole scenario in mind. He has his limits how ‘visionary’ he may be  Ask any compulsory Zardari fan, and he will tell you Shah’s elevation as Opposition Leader was another smart move by PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari.  

Though no one should take a politician’s promise on its face value, yet one should recall Zardari sb’s sentimental uttering at a time when Sharif extended him extraordinary courtesy when he was about to leave the Presidency, this September. Zardari vowed to work (under Mian sb’s leadership were the actual words) with Sharif for five years and then carry on with the Opposition’s role near the next elections. Whatever may be the wisdom of PPP’s ‘great leader’, this was too much for the party stalwarts – only a few left stranded in the party ranks during 5 years of Zardari regime.  Now, many of them, especially with a jiyala touch, feel irritated to see PPP in this unusually soft Opposition mode even when they know Imran Khan has taken away limelight from them in the last elections.

The situation at hand is more difficult as Imran is taking lead on every national level issue – NATO supplies, drones etc etc. Shah, as a Federal Minister and chief whip of his party in the last National Assembly, got respect even from the PML-N led Opposition parties for his humble and soft approach.

He was never an Opposition leader material, a shortcoming that strikes him day in and day out, even when the old guards like Aitzaz Ahsan and Raza Rabbani are trying in vain to re-visit the old Opposition mode of the 1990s. 

Makhdoom Amin Fahim may seem a loner these days, but the man had some grace and experience. Makhdoom, having served the party during late Benazir Bhutto’s self exile, was ignored out rightly in the Premiership race in 2008.

Since his elevation as the caretaker leader in light of late Bibi’s will, Zardari sb seemed allergic of the some old guards around Bhutto.  And Makhdoom of Hala had to be content with a Federal Ministry. Interestingly, the title of him being a Senior Minister was never notified by the then Premier, Yousuf Raza Gillani.

Now the party didn’t make him Opposition Leader in the Lower House even though he enjoyed status of President of Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) when both Sharif and Bhutto were in exile during Musharraf rule. With Aitzaz Ahsan in Senate and Khurshid Shah in the National Assembly, PPP seems all pitched for a compulsory in-house debating scene. 

The PPP father-son leadership duo must be in a fix finding an effective match to PTI’s political challenges. With unabated killings in Karachi under their very nose, blockade of NATO supplies is naturally not high on their agenda. Same is the case with drones which struck uninterrupted in their era. Sharif dispensation finds itself in a tight position on drones and economy issues as it won the 2013 elections riding all sorts of promise.

The only consolation for them this time around is Imran’s dwindling rhetoric coupled with fault lines appearing in the Khan led KP government camp thanks to untimely, off guarded utterances of the Jamaat Chief.

As they debate martyrdom, Americans vow to take out any day any times un-friendly Taliban leader in insurgency hit tribal belt of the country. Disarray is name of the game on the Pakistani political scene, that means uninterrupted NATO supplies for the days and months to come.