ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to take disciplinary action against former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and MNA Raza Hayat Harraj for openly opposing the re-election of Nawaz Sharif as party president.
The decision was taken at the first meeting of the newly-constituted Central Executive Committee (CEC) presided over by Nawaz Sharif at Punjab House here on Monday.
Earlier in the day, veteran politician from Multan and former PML-N president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi met Mr Sharif and other party leaders. Party sources said Mr Hashmi had been formally invited to rejoin the PML-N.
Though Mr Hashmi did not make any announcement in this regard, senior party leaders are hopeful that he will soon rejoin the party which he had left in 2011 due to some differences with the leadership over organisational matters. He later joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). However, he quit the PTI at the peak of the 2014 sit-in, alleging that Imran Khan had been staging the demonstration at the behest of the establishment.
Party leaders directed to make preparations for elections; Sharif likely to leave for UK today
Mr Hashmi was warmly received by Mr Sharif and other party leaders, including Maryam Nawaz. The sources said Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique had arranged Mr Hashmi’s meeting with Mr Sharif.
Talking to Dawn after the CEC meeting, PML-N’s information secretary and Climate Change Minister Mushahidullah Khan said the party had decided to initiate disciplinary action against Mr Jamali and Mr Harraj — two senior members of the party — in accordance with the party’s constitution because they had violated party discipline.
Mr Khan said the party leadership had decided to take stern action in future as well against those who would violate the party discipline and no leniency would be shown in this regard.
The ruling party had to face embarrassment last month when Mr Jamali, in an open defiance, voted with the opposition benches in the National Assembly for the bill seeking to amend Elections Act 2017 with an aim to remove its Clause 203 which allowed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to reclaim his position as president of the PML-N following his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.
Zafarullah Jamali, who served as prime minister during the military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf, later in his TV interviews and statements openly criticised the decision to get Mr Sharif re-elected as PML-N chief, as well as the party’s policies and strategy after the July 28 Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case.
Raza Hayat Harraj, who was also an active member of the Musharraf-era cabinet before joining the PML-N, remained absent during the crucial voting on the bill and later admitted that he had intentionally skipped the proceedings because he was not in favour of electing a “disqualified person” as the party chief.
In reply to a question about action against nearly two dozen MNAs who were also not present in the assembly at the time of the voting on the opposition’s bill, Mushahidullah Khan said the party could not take action merely on the basis of attendance.
Mr Khan said the participants of the meeting had discussed the strategy for the upcoming elections in detail and the party leadership had decided to start preparations for them. He said Mr Sharif had directed that a blueprint of the election strategy be prepared and presented before the CEC at its next meeting.
The PML-N leader said the party had decided to start mass contact campaigns and public meetings and other events would be announced at the district level.
Religious parties’ sit-ins
In response to a question, he said the issue of recent sit-ins by religious parties also came under discussion and the participants expressed concern over the incidents during the protests and the developments in the aftermath.
Earlier talking to reporters, Mr Khan said the CEC members had reposed their complete confidence in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and also expressed satisfaction over the four-year performance of the government.
Mr Khan said the PML-N had contested the 2013 elections on three major issues — elimination of loadshedding, eradication of terrorism and uplift of the devastated economy. He said the participants were of the view that despite difficulties and hurdles, the government had achieved all the three targets as there had been a considerable decline in the incidents of terrorism, and surplus electricity was being generated.
He said the performance of the government under Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was present on the occasion, was also lauded by the participants.
In reply to a question, Mr Khan said the PML-N did not want confrontation with state institutions as it was a patriotic party, adding that the nation should decide who had adopted the policy of confrontation. He said the PML-N and the Sharifs were only defending themselves against the injustices meted out to them and this act should not be considered as confrontation.
Mr Khan said the meeting between Javed Hashmi and the party leadership remained very positive and the estranged PML-N leader candidly expressed his feelings and views on different issues. He claimed that Mr Hashmi did not express his desire to rejoin the party, but “result will come soon”. He said Mr Hashmi had come to meet Mr Sharif on the latter’s invitation.
In response to a question, he said Mr Sharif was expected to leave for the UK in a day or two to inquire about the health of his ailing wife, who was undergoing treatment in London.
Sources said Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar were due to leave for London from Lahore on Tuesday (today). They said Mr Sharif had not finalised the date for his return to the country, adding that he was expected to stay with his wife for two weeks.
Meanwhile, sources told Dawn that PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq had presided over a meeting the committee formed by Mr Sharif to identify those responsible for making changes in the Khatm-i-Nubuwat declaration for electoral candidates.
The controversial changes had caused a major controversy in the country and Law Minister Zahid Hamid had to resign as a result of an army-brokered deal between the government and the leadership of Faizabad sit-in. In the agreement, the government had agreed to make public the report of the committee within a month.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2017