Three years after it came to power the PML-N government faces double jeopardy, thanks to its own acts of commission and omission. Despite being fully aware of the tendency in the establishment to encroach upon the elected government’s turf, Nawaz Sharif failed to appoint a full time foreign minister. Sharif lacked the intellect and dexterity of ZAB who had retained both the offices. Failing to react to foreign policy challenges on time, Sharif acquiesced in the army chief holding talks with foreign leaders and discussing matters that sometimes did not strictly fall into the army’s realm. Since 2014 the COAS has held meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Seeing which way the wind blew several delegations of foreign parliamentarians also called on Gen Raheel Sharif. As was pointed out during the NA proceedings on Saturday key government figures who were seldom seen in parliament never missed an invitation from the GHQ. The army’s encroachments on the civilian realm have harmed democracy and curtailed PML-N government’s powers.
The government is also increasingly under pressure from the opposition. Unless Sharif agrees to give it concessions in the next joint meeting of the ToRs committees, the opposition is likely to declare the talks unsuccessful and mull other means of bringing the PM’s family to justice on Panama Papers. As the PPP is concentrated on exposing the Sharif family’s claims of moral rectitude and thus reduce its influence over the electorate, it is likely to take recourse to courts. The PTI being interested in a regime change through a movement is likely to go for rallies and sit-ins. The PML-N itself set the tradition of hurling accusations, sometime unfounded, on political rivals and dragging them to courts. It has no moral ground to accuse the opposition for paying back in the same coin.