LAHORE - The PML-N is treading carefully on supporting the PPP in protest against arrest of Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.

Following apprehension of Siraj Durrani, the PPP has come down to a very serious situation as apprehensions loomed large about NAB action against other leaders of the party including Asif Ali Zardari. In a knee jerk reaction to arrest of Siraj Durrani in case of amassing assets beyond declared means of income, the PPP has mounted a strong protest which, however, is so far limited to statements. Former president and the PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari in a media interaction said action against PPP leadership and Durrani’s arrest was taken on the instance of ‘back seat driver’ and dubbed it as non-democratic element. PPP Sindh ministers in Karachi and the party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in London also spoke against arrest in a harsh tone. About himself, Bilawal swore on Qalma that he never committed corruption of a penny yet anti-graft body had been grilling him over the last seven months. This clearly showed that a fear of severe action was also lurking in the mind of Bilawal. Asif Zardari particularly targeted the PTI government and announced not to give it more time in power.

The PPP leadership is in a highly aggressive mood at the moment and feels the PTI is again indulging in a misadventure against PPP government in Sindh through NAB action. However, on part of the PTI no such thing has come to the fore so far and the government itself does not feel satisfied with the NAB law after its top man in Punjab Aleem Khan was taken into custody. The government has formed a committee to amend NAB law but no definite position has been adopted so far by the PPP and the PML-N as to whether it will support or oppose the same. PML-N MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan reportedly told media on this count last day that they will not support amendment in NAB law as they wanted the ruling men also face the pains at the hand of NAB which N leaders had been facing.

In separate sessions of National and Punjab Assemblies last day, the joint opposition lodged strong protest against arrest of Siraj Durrani. The opposition condemned action against Sindh Assembly speaker. The PML-N stood with the PPP but the latter, as it was learned, wanted the former to do more. The PPP is likely to go beyond verbal protest if it felt the NAB heat coming to its top leaders who are accused of money laundering to the tune of billions of rupees through fake bank accounts. The PTI government on the other hand is quite strict on money laundering as the government quarters say, it was for the sake of avoiding Pakistan name getting into list of FATF.

In this situation, the PML-N is not likely to go all out in the protest with PPP. PML-N city president and senior leader Muhammad Pervez Malik said the party will support PPP only on ‘legitimate issues’. About arrest of Agha Siraj, he said, the way he was taken into custody was not fair for which they were also up in arms. As to going with the PPP on street protest, he said, the party will decide on it and so far this matter was not under discussion. He said the PML-N will stand by PPP in parliament on ‘fair issues’ which clearly exhibit injustice and unfairness done with the PPP men. Pervez Malik supported amendment in NAB law to make accountability across the board and according to needs of law.

On the other hand, political observers say the PML-N at present cannot afford to go all out with the PPP. They say after release of party president and leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif on bail in two important cases, the party is now waiting for decision regarding release of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. As such, the party will not like to risk losing chance of getting relief for the ill former PM by way of doing anything which could harm its own interests.