After losing both the national assembly constituencies against his erstwhile opponent Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Chaudhry Nisar disappeared from the scene and even did not took oath of the provincial assembly seat he won as an independent candidate. He even lost his home constituency for the very first time since 1985. He won the most elections of national assembly seat from a constituency. He was not interested to take oath as member provincial assembly. But then media reports emerged that he is thinking to take oath as MPA to play active part in the politics. It took him 8 months to reach to that decision. According to the media reports, he might take oath next week. It would be the first time that the Chaudhry of Chakri would be taking oath as the MPA.
Chaudhry Nisar’s sudden decision to take oath as MPA and the recent shuffling of Federal Cabinet have given rise to speculations that estranged PML-N leader could emerge as strong candidate for the coveted post of Punjab chief minister. Ch Nisar was one of the most trusted aides of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for more than three decades. But he developed differences with Nawaz Sharif during the Panama leaks investigation and Supreme Court’s hearing of this case. He did not formally quit the PML-N but contested the July 25 general elections as an independent candidate.
His recent meeting with former chief minister Punjab and current president PML-N Shahbaz Sharif has given rise to the speculations that he is preparing to play a leading role in Punjab. He also attended the funeral prayers of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of Nawaz Sharif who died after the log ailment in London. He remained in touch with Shahbaz Sharif but Nawaz Sharif on couple of occasions refused to meet him.
To become the chief minister of Punjab, he either needs the support of PML-N or the PTI in Punjab assembly. He already enjoys good relations with the establishment. If he has the backing of establishment then he has a good chance to win the backing of either PML-N or PTI.
He needs to win the support of Nawaz Sharif to gain the support of PML-N. Shahbaz Sharif already wanted him back in the party. But there are certain leaders in the PML-N who are staunch opponents of Ch Nisar. Khawaja Asif, Maryam Nawaz and Pervaiz Rashid are the prominent opponents of him. But Nawaz Sharif is the key in this situation. The circumstances might force the Nawaz Sharif to accept him as next CM Punjab.
The other option is that Imran Khan endorses him as CM candidate. But this seems unlikely scenario as Imran khan will lose his grip on the largest province. Imran Khan wanted a weak chief minister in Punjab so he can control the province from Islamabad.
The role of the PML-Q and PPP will be crucial in any change in the province. To trigger a crisis in the province, the withdrawal of support from PML-Q will end the majority of PTI government. It will force the CM Punjab to take fresh vote of confidence. The failure to get the required majority will force the in-house change.
The pressure is mounting on provincial government of Pun jab to improve its performance. So far it has failed to come up with the expectations. Next few months are crucial in this regard. If PTI failed to improve the situation then it will be forced to make way for the others to take over the responsibility. Ch Nisar can play an important role with help of real powers of this country.
Ch Nisar will only take oath in the Punjab assembly if he will be insured of a prominent role and key position in the coming period in the province. His oath will be a clear indication that new game has begun in Punjab. It might also be part of the deal with PML-N to provide support to him in Punjab assembly to get more political space. The situation will become clear in next few months.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, while speaking to local reporters, dismissed the news of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan being a likely replacement for Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in the future.
If PTI refused to entertain Ch Nisar in the future despite the wishes of real powers then deal could be brokered with PML-N and PML-Q. The options are there for the real powers. But it might take some time before it might happen. It will be difficult for PM Imran Khan to maintain the present status-quo for the long in Punjab. The situation will become more complex.
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21 May, 2019