Given the tradition rivalry – or enmity according to some – between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), the solidarity shown by both parties to ward of the threat mounted by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) during the dharna took most people by surprise. While PTI supporters, amongst others, muttered darkly about an unholy axis created to keep each other in power, others choose to believe the heartening words coming from the politicians – words that talked about the ‘spirit of democracy’ and belied political maturity. As the PTI menace raises its head again, the axis has returned, but this time the trade-off is much more dubious than the last time, and according to an objective legal viewpoint; illegal.

As the Sindh Rangers turn their attention towards the PPP, the leadership of the party has been rattled and enraged, seeming increasingly frustrated at the PML-N’s silence. Yet Nawaz Sharif has finally broken it, covertly assuring the co-chairman of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari, that he won’t be arrested, and that he will instruct the authorities to dial down the operation against the PPP. The reason for the camaraderie is obvious; with Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) toying with resignation, religious parties plotting an alliance, and the PTI gearing up for another showdown, the PML-N needs as many allies as it can manage. The Prime Minister may have the authority to call of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), but getting the rangers to follow purely political dictates will be a difficult task for Nawaz Sharif.

Regardless, legality of such a move is questionable, while its immoral nature is beyond question. The Prime Minister cannot grant someone immunity from arrest, and directing law enforcement agencies to not arrest someone not only goes beyond his authority, it is active interference in a federal investigation. If the aide and associates of Zardari can be arrested legitimately – the government’s silence implies that they can be – than Zardari himself, who is implicated in several cases that the detained are involved it, should be liable for arrest to if the evidence presents itself. The PPP and the PML-N getting together was understandable, commendable even, in the face of a forceful PTI ouster which seemed supported by the military. Them doing so to save each other from the consequences of their crimes is another matter altogether.