December 2007, Election campaign was in full swing. Every Party was doing jalsas, corner meetings & rallies to propagate its manifesto. Then came the evening of Dec 27, 2007 when Benazir Bhutto the leader of PPP was assassinated in a suicide bombing in Rawalpindi. This incident changed the whole scenario in Pakistan. PPP which was emerging as villain party because of NRO deal suddenly became the central player in the politics of Pakistan. There was extreme wave of anger in Sindh against the Federation of Pakistan. No one could dare speak a single word against PPP now. Every anti PPP seemed to be ready to give power to PPP without elections to ease the anger of Jiyalas. Some words of journalists.
Talat Hussain had the folloing analysis
“PPP hamesha se eik aisi political force ha jis k baghair hakoomat chalaana thora masla krta ha Lakin abb toh PPP woh force ha Jis k Baghair Mulk hi nahi chalaya ja sakta. PPP ko power na dene k matlab Mulk Torne k mutraadif hoga.”
Haroon-ur-Rashid came with the following Demand on a TV show.
“Mulk bachaanay ka eik hi tareeka ha aur woh yeh k Musharaf iqtedaar 5 saal k liye PPP k hawaalay Kr k Resign de dien”
Every Pakistani was terrified because of the slogans being raised in Sindh “Na Khappay, Na Khappay Pakistan Na Khappay” meaning now we are not ready to be the part of Pakistan. But in those hard times Asif Ali Zardari stepped forward & won the hearts of Pakisanis by raising the slogan of Pakistan Khappay, Pakistan Khappay. Things started to settle, this was a clear indication that Sindh is totally behind Zardari. New date of elections announced.
Apart from BB murder there were so many other issues of Pakistan like dogar courts were functional, Musharaf was president, Pakistan was suffering from suicide bombing, Target Killing in Blochistan & so many other issues. But as election campaign proceeded, the issue which got highlighted most was the restoration of deposed judges. It was widely believed that if independent judiciary is reinstated many problems of Pakistan would be solved. PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif was crystal clear on this issue, he also took oath from all the ticket holders of PML-N to continue struggle for independent judiciary until the logical conclusion but on the other hand when Zardari took over PPP election campaign, PPP seemed reluctant over the judicial movement. Finally elections held, then opposition parties PPP & PML-N emerged as the top two parties with 123 & 92 NA seat respectively.
On March 9, 2008 Zardari & Nawaz Sharif met in Bhoorban & signed the deceleration that all deposed judged would be restored within 30 days of Government formation but Zardari did not abide by his words & refused to restore judiciary on April 30. PML-N gave 10 more days to PPP & finally left all the ministries on May 10, 2008. Zardari & Nawaz Sharif again had an agreement on August 7, 2008 that Judges would immediately be restored within 24 hours of the Musharaf impeachment. But when Musharaf resigned on August 18, 2008 Zardari again backed out from his words. Then the lines between the rivals started to be clear. Now Politics was Nawaz Sharif Vs Zardari.
To try ousted PPP from government was never the option as it would be extremely poisonous for the unity of federation. So Nawaz Sharif had to minimize the room for Zardari’s politics without provoking Sindhis.
Nawaz Sharif had to pave the ways out of all difficulties. Now from August 2008 to later part of 2012 Nawaz Sharif clearly defeated Zardari on political front. How?
- Zardari did not want to restore Iftekhar Chaudhry & always tried to label him as Punjabi judge but Nawaz Sharif derived the movement in such a way that when the final long march started, there was no room left for Zardari to play sindh card & had to restore Iftekhar Chaudhry unconditionally.
- Zardari wanted NRO to be approved from national assembly but when NRO was brought to parliament Nawaz Sharif conducted series of press conferences against NRO & made such environment that even PPP allies were left with no option but to oppose this black law.
- Instead of launching any aggressive campaign against PPP government corruption Nawaz Sharif directed its party leaders to fight against corruption in standing committees of national assembly & Supreme Court. Ch Nisar recovered 120 billions of rs through PAC, Abid Sher Ali effectively handled the issue of fake degrees in Standing committee for education, saved HEC. Simmiliarly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq moving nicely against corruption in Railway. Khawaja Asif & Bilal Yasin played vital role in exposing corruption in Rental Power Scandal & Hajj Corruption Scandal. PML-N leaders also petitioners against so many corruption cases in Supreme Court. Because of PML-N efforts against corruption, Pakistan improved its corruption rating from 34th in 2010 to 42nd in 2011.
- Nawaz Sharif played very nicely in constitutional amendments like in 18th amendment forced Zardari to restore parliamentary form of constitution as per the spirit of 1973. A time came when PTI was pressurizing & demanding PML-N to resign from assemblies to prove that PML-N is genuine opposition but Nawaz Sharif unprovoked with this demand, kept himself cool & directed his party to play more effective in National Assembly. Similarly in 20th amendment PML-N played very smartly & forced PPP to ensure independent election commission & care taker setup. PPP was badly stuck in a tough situation before senate elections because of possible disqualification of 26 parliamentarians which were elected in bye elections under incomplete election commission. PPP desperately needing every single vote for senate elections had to protect those elections through a constitutional amendment but PML-N refused to be the part of such amendment unless independent election commission & caretaker setup is ensured so PPP was left with no option but to fulfill PML-N demands as a result of which Pakistan now have an independent election commission which will play the decisive role in care taker setup in case of any dead lock between opposition & government under the 20th amendment in constitution.
Now in 2012 when elections are near, Zardari has no influence on Election Commission, Supreme Court & Care taker setup with NRO sword still hanging on his head. His Sindh card is diffused against PML-N & he is feeling the heat in Sindh over the Sindhi Nationalist alliance with PML-N. Since no major effort from PML-N to strike down PPP government Zardari has no excuse to tell his people that why his government did not perform, Nawaz Sharif has won the political game against Zardari.