Finally, president PML-N and opposition leader in the national assembly Shahbaz Sharif granted bail by LHC and order his release from prison.A divisional bench headed by Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmed heard Shehbaz Sharif and Fawad Hasan Fawad’s bail petitions and granted Shahbaz Sharif bail in both Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar mills cases.
NAB had arrested Shehbaz on October 5, 2018 in connection to the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case. He spent almost three months in NAB custody and then in prison. He remained under NAB custody in Islamabad while attending the national assembly sessions.
It is a big sigh of relief for him and his party. Now he can move freely without any restrictions to activate his party. He will be able to participate freely in the political activities. His release will boost the morale of PML-N workers and parliamentarians.
The LHC decision is not surprising at all for all those who know the facts about Ashiana case. NAB had accused Shehbaz of misusing his powers while being the chief minister of Punjab in an inquiry pertaining to Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC).
The Sharif family and PML-N has been passing through difficult times personally and politically in last two years. They are facing courts, jail terms, arrests and investigations in corruption and criminal cases. Nawaz Sharif at the moment is serving his second sentence after getting bail in the first prison term. Maryam Nawaz is also on the bail. Hamza Shahbaz is facing NAB inquiries.
The arrest of Shahbaz Sharif and prison sentence of Nawaz Sharif caste doubts over the political future of PML-N as a potent political force. Many political pundits and analysts made the repeated predictions that PML-N will wither away as a political party and will face splits. But PML-N remained intact as a political party in Punjab.
It seems that PML-N will be led by Shahbaz Sharif instead of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam. The Sharifs have made their mind and now Shahbaz Sharif will steer the PML-N ship out of rough waters.
Shahbaz Sharif has his own style of politics which is different from Nawaz Sharif and his daughter. Shahbaz Sharif will lead the party, and run the party affairs in his peculiar style. He will adopt the political line which will not contradict or challenge the establishment’s political interests and rather follow its line. Shahbaz Sharif always kept close connections and links with establishment.
He will be able to provide much needed leadership to this center right conservative party. It seems that Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N will come out of political hibernation of recent times.
Given the situation, the party needs Shehbaz Sharif to steer the party out of the leadership crisis and play front line role on the opposition benches in the parliament and on the streets. it will not only deny political space to the partners and the rival political forces but also save the party from internal rifts and factionalism.
There is a segment in the party susceptible to accepting pressure and taking independent line when opportunity is available. That element has been kept well under control by the Sharifs throughout and possibility cannot be ruled out about denting the party, if it found a field day in the absence of the Sharifs. Sensing sentiments of the party workers and taking decisions in case of adverse situation, is also an aspect that needs a good leadership role to take care of.
Shahbaz Sharif can put pressure on the PTI government through his political maneuvers and smart moves. He has a vast experience of politics and knows how to keep his party and politics floating while sitting in the opposition.
So his release on bail will be very beneficial for PML-N. It’s a big sigh of relief for PML-N politically. It is a setback for the PTI which wants to keep the Sharifs in the prison.
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23 July, 2019