A slip of tongue (?) from Shahbaz Sharif in support of Taliban has revealed the real policy of PML-N. Some would argue that it was no slip of tongue but a veiled expression of an 'ideology that the leadership of this rightwing party has been pursuing since General Zias time. Big brother Nawaz Sharif, I am told, has expressly told those among media who have interviewed him recently to desist from asking a direct question on terrorism. This shows the PML-N leadership wants to escape from this huge national and international issue with out taking a position. Virtually all parties at national level have condemned the statement of CM Punjab, but the parliamentarians of NWFP have done so with a special intensity. They surely have a cause to do so as they are the ones in frontline of this war on terror, bravely taking all the wounds and gashes on their chests for Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif and co are serving the purpose of rightwing powers of the Islamic world and promoting their ideology in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif also has an ambition in common with Mullah Omar of Taliban and like the Taliban chief, also had dreams of being the Ameer-ul-Momineen in his last tenure when he had the 'heavy mandate to effect the constitutional change for it. His party has strong affections for Taliban too. But the statement of Shahbaz Sharif that Taliban should 'spare Punjab reeks of provincialism, not something one would expect from someone with national aspirations of his own as well as for his brother. He must understand that we are already facing a huge trust deficit among provinces and the issue of autonomy for smaller provinces, and to what extent, is not yet off the table. Punjab is considered the big brother of federation. It is not expected to resort to provincialism or support anti-state ideology of the militant Taliban. Rather than seek mercy from militants and that too for itself alone, it is expected to lead the charge against them. -QAMAR CHEEMA, Islamabad, March 17.