The meeting between Bilawal Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore was reminiscent of the consultations between Bilawal’s mother, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and MNS for the Charter of Democracy (CoD). BB-MNS meetings took place under cosier circumstances in Jeddah and London, while Bilawal-MNS meeting was held in jail when he went to see the disgraced former prime minister. Irrespective of the circumstances, it is a consultation between the two big shots of mainstream political parties, PPP and PML-N.
The CoD signed in 2006 changed the political scenario in Pakistan and helped democracy to flourish in Pakistan. Political analysts have always given credit to PPP for walking a tightrope for the sake of CoD. Historically speaking, PPP’s pieces of advice to PML-N have always benefitted the latter. When Shahbaz Sharif returned from exile, the PPP joined hands with the league and dozens of its activists took to roads in Lahore and were arrested, making Shahbaz’s comeback a good show of street power.
It was Benazir Bhutto who after returning from exile pressed Musharraf’s government to allow MNS to come back to Pakistan. However, prior to the 2007 elections, which were postponed due to Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, PML-N, Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf, Jamaat e Islami and some other parties had announced the boycott of the elections altogether. However, BB persuaded MNS to change his decision, which resulted in PML-N not only forming government in Punjab following the 2007 election, but also emerging as the second largest party in the National Assembly.
During its 2008-2013 rule, PPP did not victimize the PML-N and former President Asif Zardari introduced a doctrine of reconciliation in national politics, despite PML-N leaders such as Shahbaz Sharif speaking of hanging him publicly. MNS became a party in the Memo-Gate Scandal against Zardari. However, Zardari introduced the 18th Amendment and transferred all executive powers to the parliament with the help of PML-N. If we sum-up the outcomes of the CoD, Pakistan and PML-N were the major beneficiaries of the charter.
Bilawal-Sharif meeting is a preamble of a new undocumented charter of democracy. The two leaders have agreed to continue their struggle for the rule of the constitution and the empowerment of the elected government. MNS is almost at the verge of retirement but desires for his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, to take up the mantle and lead his supporters and the party. Bilawal, equipped with a panache, zeal and courage akin to that of his mother, has a long political career ahead. If he and Maryam work together towards the charter signed by their parents, they may change the game in the near future. However, the PML-N needs to step up and synchronize their efforts with the PPP.