Friend or foe?
by Rashid Chaudhry
Sheikh Rasheed had a relatively smooth run electorally speaking until he deserted the PML-N in 2002.
After facing two consecutive defeats in 2008 and 2010, Rasheed had to bargain with the PTI to save the single seat for his Awami Muslim League in the 2013 elections.
This strategy delivered good results and Rasheed got his tag of ‘parliamentarian’ back after a dry-run of five years, in which he kept himself relevant with his daily TV appearances.
After surviving the ‘reserved verdict’ of the Supreme Court on his case, he will again position himself with the PTI for the 2018 elections. Pindi residents are anticipating a tight competition in Sheikh’s constituency.
The way he has shown allegiance to the PTI, chances are that he will get some ministerial slot if he and PTI both win the elections.
In any scenario, Rasheed is likely to continue getting media attention for his witty remarks, so-called predictions and the comedy he creates using street metaphors.
Rasheed believes Imran Khan is the final hope for Pakistan. “If we have to save Pakistan, Imran Khan is the last option and we need to make sure he is voted to power,” Rasheed, who is being supported by PTI in the election for NA-60 and NA-62, told a rally in Karachi in May.
Days before the caretaker government took charge, the AML chief told a press conference that the Supreme Court should appoint a caretaker government, even if it has to impose judicial martial law for 90 days, to supervise the upcoming general election.
“The chief justice of Pakistan should supervise the general election in consultation with Election Commission of Pakistan to stop election rigging and in this regard, impose judicial martial law for 90 days until election day,” Rasheed told Dawn.
Once a PML-N stalwart, Rasheed is now regarded by the party as an adversary. Following Nawaz’s disqualficiation, he predicted that the PML-N had become a divided house and its parliamentarians will leave the “Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif” in the coming days.
The AML leader also protested against the Elections Act 2017 which allowed politicians disqualified from holding public office to head a political party. He said democracy would suffer because of this bill, saying it was being passed for one person, a reference to Nawaz.
As minister for information during the Musharraf regime, Rashid supported peace between Islamabad and New Delhi, but said Pakistan would never compromise on either the Kashmir issue or its nuclear programme, adding that no flexibility was possible on these two issues.
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