(Agar main ne Zardari ko sarkoon pe na ghaseeta

tou mera naam Shahbaz Sharif nahin)

If I don’t drag Zardari through the streets my name is not Shahbaz Sharif.

–Election Rally, 2013.

It will be obvious to the discerning; Shahbaz Sharif is still called Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari was not dragged through the streets – literally or metaphorically. Tall election claims and empty rhetoric is routine in Pakistan, but even by Pakistani standards, staking your name on an outcome is a very serious matter of honor. The PML-N, who rode a wave of anti-PPP feeling into the office immediately turned around and formed an ‘understanding’ with the PPP. Both parties ruled their own provinces without interference and promised to guard each other’s back.

The resolve was tested during Imran Khan’s march on Islamabad and several times afterwards too – and so far the accord has held strong. Yet with LG polls around the corner and campaign for the next election on the distant horizon, there seems to be trouble in paradise. Old platitudes are being whipped out again and old challenges are resurfacing too. You can expect such preposterous claims once more. For those who spent precious time thinking alternative names for the Chief Minister, there will be more disappointment in store.