LAHORE - The existing scenario created by assorted political and policy related issues on the national chessboard is pushing both ruling and the opposition sides to adopt new positions to checkmate each other. The situation is embarrassing particularly for the ruling PML-N for the reason it has to not only deal with very vital issues concerning the country but also protect party which in the recent past suffered jolts when some stalwarts of Sindh said goodbye to it and the JUI-F despite being part of the government is playing hostile to it.
On the other hand the gap between the government and the opposition parties, with PPP as fence sitter, is widening on the issue of talk or no talk with the Taliban and the protection of Pakistan ordinance. But not all the opposition are on the same page on these issues as they are being guided by their interest, and hence some are closing ranks and drifting from others.
Terrorism, pressure from the opposition and friction within the party, are gradually showing up as greater challenge to the PML-N government at a time when it is grappling with the economic and energy problems. Already in a struggle to bolster its image as staunch lover of democracy and protector of the institutions by means of getting the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf grilled and punished under the law for alleged high treason, the PML-N appears to be losing its balance reportedly under the external pressure and rifts within the party. Atop this situation, the opposition parties, minus PPP, have lined themselves up against the government on the said ordinance as well as on the question how to deal with the Taliban.
JUI-F which had recently joined the PML-N led federal government also stands shoulder to shoulder with JUI-S, JI and PTI on opposing any military action against the Taliban and blaming the US for sabotaging the dialogue initiative which the government was minded to take in light of the APC decision, by killing Hakimullah Mehsud and his aide Waliur Rahmen in back to back drone attacks.
The ANP which ruled Khyber PK after the election 2008, has been a direct victim of terrorist attacks, speaks for peace in the province not matter what way it comes through.
As to MQM, it is not interested in talks with the Taliban but wants action. The party has another interest in saving Musharraf from punishment in the treason case and echoes the friendly sentiments which PML-Q leaders had expressed about the former dictator, albeit in a legally language that only Musharraf should not be tried, but all those who vindicated his November 3, 2007 PCO.
MQM going a yard ahead wants initiation of case against Musharraf on October 12, 1999 action as it has to also rope in the judges who validated the same and among that lot also included the recently retired CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
The PTI and PML-Q are also bracing for giving the N-government in Punjab a tough time on the question of delay in Local Government election. Hence the Opposition is striking new alignment on the burning issues.
On the other hand the PML-N at the party level has expressed tilt for military action to deal with the Taliban while leaving a narrow margin of talk with militant elements as only those will be offered this peaceful means who accept authority of the Constitution of Pakistan which given the track record of the rival side appears not in sight.
The government has not totally abandoned the peaceful means but, sources say, it has decided to level ground at the public level for action to curb terrorism, for which it had come under immense pressure after Bannu and Mastung incidents. JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq who has a big clout on the Taliban and was deputed by the government to initiate process of talks with the Taliban, sees external pressure on the government against talk with militants. Sami has separated himself from the government given assignment out of fury. Maulana Fazalur Rahman is also closing ranks with Sami and reports suggest that the former may take tough decision on remaining or not part of the government.
The PML-N is also losing ground in Sindh, where former chief minister Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, who has merged his National Party with PML-N before election, has parted ways with the government and has revived his party. Another big blow from Sindh came to the N-league when former CM Sindh Liaqat Ali Jatoi, who also joined the N-League before polls on high hopes, has quit all offices of the party.
Former top leader of PML-Q and ex-CM Sindh Dr Arbab Ghulam and his group, as the sources say are also not comfortable with N-League and any decision from them is also impending. In order to control further damage, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif met with Sherazi brothers from Thatta, which the sources say, also had certain grievances with the party which they shared with the CM in the meeting on Tuesday.