Amir Mateen ISLAMABAD: The best way for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to counter his political rivals is to come to Parliament and then speak. A five-minute speech by the prime minister in Parliament equalises the rants of his rivals that is shown by media 24/7. This made all the difference on Wednesday when Nawaz Sharif opened his heart before the political parties who had backed him in the ongoing crisis. And this might have been the single largest factor that saved him from the PTI/PAT combo. So far, that is. Nawaz Sharif thanked all of them for saving Parliament and democracy—not to forget his government—but made special mention of one perpetually dithering party—the MQM. Altaf Bhai has no love lost for Imran Khan but has a special affinity with Tahirul Qadri. Both have foreign connections and see each other as potential partners in more ways than one. The PML-N was smart to retain the MQM governor to keep certain leverage on the party. Obviously, the dice was turning to roll in favour of parliamentary parties which threatened to bring out bigger crowds than PTI or PAT if their mandate was rolled up before time. Parliamentarians had reasons to be enraged. Even dictators did not desecrate Parliament as it was being done by PTI/PAT hordes. No old-timer ever saw gun-toting khakis in corridors, even outside the Press Gallery. It was an uncomfortable situation for both parties. We knew why we resented the khaki presence but the poor souls who were simply doing their job had no idea why they were being sneered at. Outside, the entry/exit gates were closed with piles of sand bags. The adjoining grill of the Supreme Court was being used to dry washed clothes. This prompted a member to remark that it looked more like “the Supreme Court of shalwar qameez.” Being an outsider who can’t even contest polls because of his dual nationality, Tahirul Qadri can live with all this gimmickry, the kaffan-clad workers digging graves, the hyperbole about his revolution that comes from charity money. Imran Khan, who professes to change the system from within can’t afford to have the image of a rock star with DJ Butt. Imran Khan claims he would never resort to any extra-constitutional measures to get into power, but the whole PTI/PAT exercise smacks of a darker conspiracy. Imran’s claim seems as truer as his promise that he would never enter the Red Zone. One just have to see the characters around King Khan—the Sheikh, the Tareen, the Chaudhrys, the Aleems and the cronies of business tycoons who can flourish only under dictators and have billions at stake. Now, we don’t know whether it was a real attempt to pull down Nawaz Sharif or Imran Khan was duped into it just to weaken Nawaz Sharif and the democratic system. Nawaz Sharif comes across as a weak man, but Imran seems weaker. Nawaz needs to understand that, in this day and age, the public wants its leaders to be seen with them. He can’t afford to have this image of a detached person. If he can’t resolve all their problems in the time that he had promised in the elections he should at least be seen to understand them. So far, the PML-N arrogance reflected by its high command—with some exceptions—does not match its performance. Similarly, Imran needs to get out of the anarchist groove. A section of the youth loves to see him frolicking from corner of his container to another, performing aerobics, raving about one deadline after another, threatening policemen, judges, bureaucrats, journalists and anybody that moves on two legs. His world view is obviously shaped from Jeffrey Archer thrillers and James Bond movies, where he sees a conspiracy under every brick. Is this the just revolution that he wants to bring about? After all, governance and administration are serious stuff and need some minimum sobriety to reform them. We got impressed when the PTI gave shadow policies before elections, but it has now come down to virtual buffoonery. Rumours abounded that the prime minister might just announce the resignations of Shahbaz Sharif in Parliament. The inquiry report of the Model Town massacre, which triggered the whole crisis, seems to have put Shahbaz Sharif in the spot light. Some speculated that Nawaz was keeping it as a trump card to neutralise Qadri, but the decision was not made till the filing of the story. Interestingly, the instigator of the problem, Shahbaz Sharif, had left for China. We were told that it was to prepare ground for very important visit of Chinese president. This is one reason why the government and the establishment would want the crisis to be resolved as agreements to be signed include some important defence contracts also. We are also told that the infamous Ehtesabur Rehman is bounced back as one of the key players in Pak-China contracts. And many suspect a much larger conspiracy to scuttle the all important Chinese president. This might be the real reason that the prime minister, who does not want to use violence at any cost, is afraid to be pushed towards using force if push came to shove. Last time, Nawaz Sharif was able to stop Chaudhry Nisar from overreacting in the nick of time. By the way, Chaudhry Nisar was again missing when the prime minister arrived in Parliament. We are not sure if this meant anything important. All we can say is that the rumours about Ashfaq Sarwar (Nisar buddy who is related to somebody important) ever becoming Punjab chief minister are wrong. While we wondered about Shahbaz leaving for China in the middle of a crisis, we hear about Nawaz Sharif touring Turkey though the plan of his visit is not final yet. What is going on here—one may ask. We could see the prime minister gay and confident. May be he was given assurance by some people that all was well. May be not!