Will Khaqan Abbasi’s meeting with Nawaz Sharif change the political game? Shafaqna Analysis

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Former prime minister and Secretary General Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had a meeting with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif in London on Thursday where he arrived in the wee hours of the day. Abbasi briefed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif about the political developments taking place back in the country and sought his guidance regarding upcoming issues. He will be returning from London on Monday (January 11) after having another detailed meeting with Nawaz Sharif. 

Notably, in the past, Abbasi explicitly asked the Chief Justice of Pakistan to help political parties and the government initiate a national dialogue to end the ongoing political ‘chaos’ in the country. He was on 24 TV with a prominent anchorperson, Nasim Zehra, when he urged all the stakeholders to come to the table and hold talks.

The meeting between PML-N stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Nawaz Sharif in London has kept the rumour mills abuzz that a deal with the authorities in on the anvil. Abbasi’s sudden departure raised eyebrows as he was placed on the Exit Control List and was facing corruption charges. He was permitted to visit the United States on the pretext on meeting his ailing sister but days later ended up in London to deliver a special message to the PML-N supremo.

There has been intense speculation on what message Abbasi has given to Nawaz Sharif. If the rumour mills are to be believed then a deal has been struck to bring an in-house change in Punjab and possibly the Centre. The formula has to be worked out but this is likely to take place after the Senate elections. The opposition, notably the PML-N, has not made its final decision whether it will participate in the elections and the highly-anticipated long march has been delayed for now.

It has also been speculated that Abbasi has been sent to deliver Shehbaz Sharif’s message to Nawaz Sharif to tone down the rhetoric and adopt a reconciliatory approach with state institutions. The PML-N president has been active even in custody and has been meeting Mehmood Durrani who is acting as an interlocutor with the establishment. Shehbaz has favoured a reconciliatory approach as compared to his elder brother who is on the offensive these days. It needs to be seen whether the former prime minister will heed the advice and soften his stance.

Political analysts are of the view that the PML-N is now looking for a third-party to intervene in the political process for a graceful exit. It has been reliably learned that several party leaders are not happy with Nawaz’s anti-army narrative, and are demanding careful deliberation over the future of the party.

Some policymakers and insiders in Islamabad also believe that Nawaz does not see his political future in Pakistani politics but wants his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, to be a legitimate hire of his politics. While doing so, Nawaz is reportedly using different tactics to put pressure on the establishment and demand acceptable political space for Maryam. However, it is yet to be seen whether the establishment will be in a position under PM Khan to give any bailout package to Sharifs or not.

Shafaqna Pakistan

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