Almost two weeks after winning an overwhelming mandate, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has still not formed the government, and Nawaz Sharif, prime minister-in-waiting, is one step short of moving into Islamabad’s PM House. The delay is being attributed to deficit-bridging and distribution of portfolios. However, Sharif has nominated his younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, for the job of Punjab chief minister, reported The Express Tribune on May 23. He has served in that position twice earlier. Newspapers reported before the polls that Shahbaz wanted to be the federal water and power minister, while the powerful office of Punjab CM was being eyed by PML-N heavyweight Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, former leader of opposition in the National Assembly. Since Khan lost this election, the chief ministership returns to Shahbaz, thereby giving the Sharif family a firm grip on the affairs of the country, as well as its most powerful province.
NAWAZ, THE WISE
EVEN though he has still not assumed office, Nawaz Sharif is making all the right noises about domestic and foreign policy matters. Before the election, the Taliban had announced it would stop the violence in the tribal areas if Sharif and two others became guarantors in a peace deal with the then government. Sharif did not agree to giving any guarantee then. But now, says he is serious about talking to the Taliban.
The News reported on May 20: “Nawaz Sharif… suggested that the offer made by Taliban for a dialogue process should be given a serious thought for a lasting peace… ‘Economy thrives in peace, not war… We must sit on the table to negotiate peace and end the state of war’, said he addressing a convention of the PML-N’s elected candidates… ‘All options should be tried, and guns are not a solution to all problems,’ Nawaz said.” This was music to the Taliban’s ears. The Nation added on May 23: “Nawaz Sharif’s call for peace talks made to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was welcomed by the proscribed militant organisation on Thursday… Talking to a private news channel, TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the offer for peace talks… was a positive sign and that the militant organisation was devising a strategy over the course of action to be taken in response…”