ISLAMABAD: The Central Working Committee (CWC) of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) met on Monday for the first time since the 2013 general elections, but only to fulfil the legal requirement of holding intra-party elections.
The PML-N was reminded by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last month that its intra-party elections were overdue after the three-year term of its office-bearers expired in July 2014.
Monday’s meeting, therefore, was convened mainly to enable the party to contest future by-polls on vacant seats for the national and provincial assemblies. The last time the CWC met, well before the general elections, was to sanction the allotment of tickets to party candidates.
Talking to Dawn after the meeting, PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that a five-member election committee had been constituted under Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal to conduct intra-party elections for the next three-year term. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attended by key federal ministers, central and provincial office-bearers as well as Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Farooq Haider and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman.
CWC designates body to hold intra-party elections, a pre-requisite for participating in further elections
Mushahidullah Khan claimed that the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the intra-party elections and other internal affairs. He said there was no discussion on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Oct 30 protest.
He said that not a single participant in the meeting named the PTI or Imran Khan. Even the prime minister, in his opening remarks, only alluded to the party indirectly, saying that some people wanted to derail the country from the road to progress.
The PML-N’s election committee, headed by Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, consists of Imdad Chandio, Ali Asghar Jadoon, Mir Afzal and Najma Hamid.
Sources told Dawn that the party leadership had planned to convene a general council meeting of the party on Oct 18 to elect new office-bearers. The office of the party’s secretary general had been vacant for over a year after Iqbal Zafar Jhagra was appointed governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Sources said that after his opening remarks, the prime minister declared that only senior members from each province would be allowed to speak. Some participants sent chits to Mr Sharif seeking his permission to speak, but the prime minister did not heed them. Among those who got the opportunity to speak were Raja Zafarul Haq, Siddiqul Farooq and Ghulam Dastagir Khan from Punjab; Ilahi Bakhsh Soomro from Sindh, Saranjam Zamindar from KP, Sardar Yaqoob Nasir from Balochistan, the AJK prime minister and the GB chief minister.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq then made the announcement about the formation of the election committee. Sources said almost all speakers praised the government’s three-year performance and paid tribute to PM Sharif. Veteran party leader Ghulam Dastagir Khan, however, expressed concern over the inordinate delay in convening the CWC.
In his opening remarks, the prime minister said the party had inherited a number of challenges when it took over the government in 2013, but it was overcoming them “satisfactorily”. He said there had been significant decline in terrorism incidents and the country’s economy had been strengthened. “Our agenda is [one] of development and progress. Certain people want to derail the process of development. They only believe in protests,” the prime minister said, in an apparent reference to the PTI. He said democracy gave the right to protest but it could not be without limits. “They want to paralyse Pakistan through their negative politics. They failed in their attempt in 2014, and they will fail miserably this time also,” he added.
The prime minister said that he was committed to the Kashmir cause. “No power in the world can stop us from supporting the freedom struggle of Kashmiris,” he said, adding: “India is sadly mistaken if it thinks that a freedom fight can be equated with terrorism.” Mr Sharif also briefed the members on the progress so far made in the implementation of $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, saying that “Balochistan will benefit the most from CPEC.”
Special adviser to the prime minister Irfan Siddiqui presented a resolution at the meeting condemning the violation of human rights in India-held Kashmir and expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir.
Published in Dawn October 11th, 2016