To say that Nawaz Sharif is an indispensable part of PML-N would be an understatement; the fact that the party passed a defunct clause which would allow him to be party head, shows how the party can’t run without him, and just how crucial he is in every step PML-N takes. However it appears that passing that tailor-made law did not do much good, since it seems Nawaz is, or at least appears to be, out of the loop with the Faizabad operation, as he is decidedly unhappy with Ahsan Iqbal’s handling of the protesters.

In a meeting with party activists and leaders at the Punjab House, Nawaz Sharif asked Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal tough questions about failure of the operation against the protesters, and was unhappy because he was not consulted during talks and over the preparation of the draft of the six-point agreement.

It is unclear whether Nawaz was actually uninvolved in the going-ons of the past few days, or this statement is so no blame can be attributed to Nawaz for the mess that was the Faizabad operation. What this does definitely indicate is the whiff of a rift in the party, which was further worsened with former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, lashing out at his successor, for the way he handled the protests.

While rumours of a rift in PML-N have been abuzz for months now, starting with Nisar’s departure, to overheard animosity between Maryam and Hamza Sharif, these more recent whispering of Ahsan Iqbal drifting further from Nawaz’s favour must have something to do with the Interior Minister’s increasing encounters with the establishment.

These recent clashes are indicative of the growing change in the ideology of PML-N, and highlight the ambiguity of which direction the party is to take in the trying times to come. For months, the conflict in PML-N has been over the issue of whether to take a confrontational approach or abiding with the judiciary. The disagreement between Ahsan Iqbal and Nawaz here was an ideological difference in the way Iqbal chose to deal with the protesters - hesitantly, cautiously and letting army take the centre stage, while Nawaz advocated for a harsh tactic. It is ironic that Nawaz wanted to go tough on protesters, considering he himself seems headed for the protest route, as he, after the meeting, declared that his mass mobilisation drive would be continued.