In Pakistan, you will find a thousand politicians with a cause, but almost none advocating for something that does not inherently benefit their political career. Yesterday, Nawaz Sharif did the unusual, by using his critique of institutions to step up for a most ignored movement, for perhaps one of the first times in his career.

Speaking at a “National Seminar on Sanctity of Ballot” at the National Library auditorium on Tuesday, Nawaz Sharif found unity with four other political parties, three of them in the ruling coalition with PML-N, to speak out for launching a movement for the supremacy of parliament and preservation of the democratic process and, urged the army and the judiciary to work within “constitutional framework”. Nawaz Sharif, (PkMAP) president Mehmood Khan Achakzai, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and NP president Hasil Bizenjo expressed concern over “continued interference of the judiciary and the military in the domain of the executive”. More importantly, all speakers, except Maulana Fazl, extended support to the ongoing Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and called for giving its leaders a ‘patience hearing’, terming all their demands “genuine and within the constitution.”

For the past few months, Nawaz Sharif has found himself a very lonely head of the largest political party in government. With Sharif’s continuous failures in the court, PML-N found itself fewer allies in other parties, with parties refusing to go along with PML-N’s even sensible ideas. This coupled with defections inside the PML-N itself had made it a vulnerable time for a party which was heading a confrontation against the judiciary. This show of support from other parties at the National Library auditorium is a big boost for Nawaz Sharif, who has been hit with verdicts and defections. United in the very important cause of civilian supremacy, with other parties, shows PML-N as a strong and steadfast party standing up for a worthy cause.

Moreover, the point of giving vocal support for the PTM, a largely neglected movement, does leagues in PML-N’s favour. Before, Nawaz’s rhetoric of civilian supremacy and rant against judicial overreach was wearing thin and felt superficial, since it was perceived that the political leader only cared about institutions overstepping their boundaries, when they were issuing verdicts against him. Sharif standing up and lending voice to a cause, which does not affect him, lends credibility to the narrative that his stance for the sanctity of vote is for the betterment of the nation, and not just for political point scoring.