FeaturedNationalVolume 13 Issue # 22

Can Sharif-Zardari deal work against Imran Khan?

Former President Asif Ali Zardari has once again claimed that the next prime minister of Pakistan will be from his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The claim appears to be a pipedream as the party has even failed to field candidates in all constituencies of the Punjab, which matters the most in elections. However, his confidence indicates he has struck a deal with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for support to his candidate for the top slot.


According to sources, Asif Zardari held a meeting with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the residence of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi, a few weeks ago after months of backdoor contacts between them. Najam Sethi is considered close to both and served as a bridge between them. It is said they have decided to join hands to stop PTI Chairman Imran Khan from coming to power at any cost, because they think he is harmful for their politics. Under the deal, the PML-N will vote for a PPP candidate for the prime minister’s slot after the next election as they believe Imran Khan would inflict irreparable loss to both parties after coming to power. Other options will also be used against Imran Khan to prevent him from forming the next government.


It is said the PML-N media cell had been working on a plan to arrange a meeting between the two for many months. The cell has also obtained information about Imran Khan which could harm him. It has collected personal information about internal affairs of his Bani Gala residence and medical reports. Reham Khan’s book is part of the strategy to defame him before the election and pave the way for the PML-N or the PPP to appoint their unanimous prime minister.


Sources say Asif Zardari was not willing to bury the hatchet with Nawaz Sharif because of his past experience. He thought Nawaz Sharif could not be trusted after a long history of betrayals and his contacts with the establishment. However, he had to change his mind after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) became active in Sindh and summoned his sister Faryal Talpur on allegations of corruption. When the husband of his second sister, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuhu, was summoned by NAB, it forced Zardari to reconsider Nawaz Sharif’s offer of talks.


Under the agreement, it is said, both parties have decided to help each other in retaining power in their home provinces of Sindh and the Punjab. The PML-N will make an all-out effort to help the PPP to deal with a newly-formed Grand Democratic Alliance, which threatens to eliminate the PPP in interior Sindh. It also can rope in the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for the PPP, if a need arises. In return, the PPP will help the PML-N form the government in the Punjab, from its seats in south Punjab. The PML-N has withdrawn itself from the race for the prime minister and it will support a PPP candidate or a candidate of another party backed by it. The plan can work if both parties bag over 120 National Assembly seats.


According to analysts, both parties have realized that the PTI has become strong and most popular in the Punjab and it has already eliminated the PPP from the province and is on course to do it with the PML-N, if left with a free hand. All electables in the South Punjab have already joined the PTI and it will be a great achievement if the PPP and the PML-N manage to win a few seats in the region. The PTI is also strong in central and northern Punjab and its ticket is being considered a guarantee to win the election.


It is said more women are ready to level serious charges against Imran Khan. His former wife Reham Khan’s book failed to dent his popularity because the Indian lobby was evident from her daily interviews on Indian channels. The Indian channels and print media openly support former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his party for his stance against the Pakistan establishment. Reham Khan bracketed herself with the India lobby and the Sharif family by praising the PML-N leadership in her book which could not be published in the UK for libel content. It minimized the impact of her book. More books and films are expected to be released against Imran Khan ahead of the elections, because the PML-N leadership will go to any extent to avenge its humiliation and downfall. More cases under Articles 62 and 63 will be lodged against him. Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is considered close to the PML-N leadership, has already challenged Imran Khan’s eligibility to hold public office under Article 62 (1)(f) over allegations that he fathered a “love child”. He challenged Imran’s nomination papers on the grounds that he had admitted to being the father of Tyrian White while abroad but denied it in Pakistan. It appears the case will be decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Some say the PML-N is also working to bring Tyrian White to Pakistan to derail Imran’s election campaign and efforts to become the prime minister of Pakistan. Tyrian White, 26, is the daughter of the late British socialite Sita White, who had won a default judgment in a paternity suit against Imran Khan in a Los Angeles court in 1997, after he refused to provide DNA samples to prove or disprove paternity. After the verdict, Imran Khan had told the US media that he would submit a blood test in Pakistan and stand by the decision of a Pakistani court, arguing that he was not a resident of California or England.


Despite plans to block his way, Imran appears to be leading the campaign to become the prime minister of Pakistan. It is said his biggest hurdle to power was strained relations with the establishment, which was wary of his stubborn attitude. He has allayed the apprehensions before the election and now there is no impendent to his way to become the prime minister of Pakistan.