LAHORE - Seemingly confident of receiving a favourable and safe decision by the Supreme Court in the Panama leaks case, PML-N is, nevertheless, not ignoring the seamy side of the picture and the ways to deal with it.

In the current political milieu wherein a government stalwart and very close and old buddy of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, is under the media focus about making ‘startling revelations’ about his differences with the PM and his ministers despite reportedly calls to him by the first lady for showing flexibility. The mood of Ch Nisar is being reckoned important in the present scenario since he can cause further cracks in the party.

Ch Nisar last days had a very hard talk with the prime minister during a cabinet meeting. Reportedly, he was annoyed with the PM over ignoring his advice on arresting the hostile situation from getting the worst, for sidelining him in the consultative process at the top echelon of the party on the Panama issue and hearing voice of sycophants due to whom the government is facing a very critical situation.

Ch Nisar last Friday announced to hold a press conference on Sunday, but it was deferred to next day, reportedly, on the request of his friends in the party. Saddened by the Lahore blast on Monday, he preferred not to talk politics before the media.

Ch Nisar has held back his media conference and not cancelled it, as such there are different stories having direct link to the PML-N future in case of unfavourable decision against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nisar remains in gloomy mood. Some say he is going to quit the ministry, others say the party while some others view he eyes premiership in case of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification for which he is using press conference as a pressure tactic. Yet others say, he has settled differences with the party leadership, so his media talk is not more than a formality. The opinion at the intellectual level in any event carries weight that Ch Nisar’s resolve to face the media is keeping the interest alive that something important is coming forth. Nisar is open to run the risk of losing relevance in the party as the most senior member and his political stature, if he disowns what happened in the cabinet meeting and gives okay report to the media in the upcoming interaction, say political observers.

Although internal integrity and solidarity of the PML-N is being viewed, it largely depends on what Ch Nisar will reveal to the media about which it is everybody’s guess, including the party men.

Within the PML-N, parliamentary party members’ meeting as well as formal and informal meetings by the top men are going on to assess and line up for the unfolding situation after the Panama verdict. Sources in the party say the leadership is receiving input from the members and majority is with Nawaz Sharif.

The members dominantly believe that if any wrongdoing was there, it was not due to acts or policy of the party or the PML-N government, but some individuals or a family. In an interaction, a member gingerly shared with this scribe that the party matters mainly revolve around a bunch while an ordinary member or a minister has very little say therein. He also blamed some unelected members and a media cell being responsible for giving rise to the situation which otherwise could have been eased to a satisfactory level.

Since the Supreme Court decision is the pivotal to turn the situation to any side, the leadership has different plans in its mind to meet any eventuality. In case of a favourable clean chit to the prime minister, there will be no worry. There will be jubilations and thanksgivings.

Sources say two extreme views exist in the party in case of an adverse decision. One group believes, political martyrdom will suit the party to win the early next elections due to the sympathy of the people. The second group which holds majority wants completion of the government tenure as it will also benefit the party in the March Senate elections on 52 seats.

As to the replacement of the PM for the interim period, the party needs a face which could be acceptable to the party members and hold them together. But in that event the question is what role Nawaz Sharif will play and what way he would be defended in case the SC verdict goes beyond disqualification.

For replacement of the prime minister about a dozen names are in media reports, but none of them has been finalised as yet although the PM has taken some them into confidence on this count, sources say, adding brainstorming is still going on in the party as to what course has to be taken in the long run and final decision in this regard will be taken by the prime minister on his return from The Maldives on July 27. They say one thing is certain that the prime minister is determined not to step down as per demand of the Opposition.