Up till now the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) has presented a solid front to opposition forces. Its ranks have wavered, retreated and sallied forth, but for the most part they have remained united under pressure. However, under the renewed assault following the Joint Investigation (JIT) Report, it seems like the lions are turning on their own. The rifts aren’t public yet, nor have they been confirmed, but enough rumours are swirling around to suggest that some palace intrigue is happening behind the scenes.

The cracks can be traced back to release of the JIT report – or more specifically, the imminent possibility of the Prime Minister’s departure. As the factions inside the PML-N scrambled to formulate plans for such a contingency, influential forces found themselves at cross-purposes, and the sprawling behemoth that is the PML-N party leadership had to brace for a new kind of battle. Is this what is in store if Nawaz Sharif is not around to keep all the lawmakers in line?

At the moment it seems so; first Shehbaz Sharif came under the spotlight as a potential replacement to his elder brother – and immediately faced criticism from the party faithful for being distant during the Panama crisis and not rushing to Nawaz Sharif’s defence. As that topic played itself out in the media, another prominent – but solitary – leader of the party has come under scrutiny; the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

The same critics are levelling the same criticism on Mr Nisar, and this time there seems to be some actual fire that is feeding the smoke. The Interior Minister has not been seen in a public appearance or important intra-party meetings of late. His mysterious illness which has kept him out of official engagements has also fuelled speculation of a rift. His receiving an official blue passport – by virtue of his being a member of parliament – in exchange for his diplomatic passport – which he had by virtue of his being a federal minister – seems to have sent speculation into overdrive. Is the Interior Minister’s Sunday address a routine press conference or an announcement of his resignation?

The only reasonable thing to do at this point is to await the comments of Mr Nisar himself on Sunday, however we can be certain that the speculation will continue. Even if the Interior Minister does not resign – which is the most likely scenario since there has been no public indication that he will – one thing is certain; PML-N is not the monolith it seems to be. A post-Nawaz PML-N will be a much more fractious place.