LAHORE - Though it has been a consistent stance of the PPP that Nawaz Sharif should not resign under any pressure, but Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah’s statement asking the PM to announce mid-term polls indicates a major shift in its policy on the current political crisis.

In the just concluded joint session of the Parliament, the PPP had backed a resolution supporting the prime minister and rejecting the PTI’s demand for his resignation.

Though another senior party leader Mian Manzoor Wattoo had given an indication about the possible change in the PPP’s stance on the present political imbroglio a few days back, it was not taken notice of since he is not supposed to issue policy statements.

Wattoo had stated last week that following the publication of the ECP report on May 11 elections highlighting massive irregularities by the returning officers, the PPP might reconsider its present stance to force the government to hold mid-term polls.

 “The PPP would reconsider its position as the party stance on May elections would become exceedingly difficult to defend in future after publication of the ECP report,” he then remarked, and added that the ECP report had put the legitimacy of the government in jeopardy and it would be appropriate to seek fresh mandate from the electorates.

Khursheed Shah on Tuesday only went a step further and urged the prime minister to announce mid-term polls. “We don’t want the PM to leave the office under duress,” he said.  

Earlier, Mr. Shah faced severe criticism from PTI chief Imran Khan for supporting the prime minister both inside and outside the Parliament. Even the party’s Punjab cadres showed resentment over his pro-Nawaz stance. In the last CEC meeting, the PPP leaders from Punjab urged the top leadership to review the party policy about the PML-N.

There were also reports that a bunch of disgruntled PPP men from Punjab was about to join the PTI in the near future. It was followed by a formal apology by party’s Patron-in-Chief, Bilawal Bhutto who apologized to estranged PPP men for being neglected by the leadership.

Party’s de-facto chairman Asif Ali Zardari is also planning to spend Eid holidays in Punjab where he wants to meet party men to address their grievances.  

If seen in this background, a statement by Khursheed Shah, which is in deviation of the stated party policy, seems more an attempt to please the party’s Punjab cadres then a serious political move to pressurise the government to hold mid-term polls. 

Some analysts, however, believe that a sudden shift in PPP’s policy over the current situation might have something to do with NAB’s decision to investigate some party leaders including Qasim Zia and Firdous Aashiq Awan. The two former prime ministers, Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf are already being tried in courts on charges of corruption.

On the May 11 elections, the PPP leadership has been saying time and again that it had accepted the election results only for the sake of the continuity of democracy despite having reservations about fairness of the elections. But now it thinks that the ECP report has damaged the credibility of the whole electoral process of 2013 elections and that the PML-N has lost its legal and moral authority to rule the country.

As the PPP seems drifting away from its declared policy on fresh polls, the party announced recently that Bilawal Bhutto would be unfolding more details about rigging in 2013 elections from Karachi to Khyber as he makes a speech on October 18 to mark the first assassination attempt on his mother at Karsaaz, Karachi in 2007.