ISLAMABAD: The outspoken Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan once again voiced his displeasure over the handling of the Panama Papers issue and blamed unnamed advisers for the disastrous situation the party had faced in the wake of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification.

The former interior minister was speaking at a meeting of the central working committee (CWC) of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was convened to formally endorse the decision to nominate Senator Yaqoob Khan Nasar as the party’s acting president.

Sources said that Chaudhry Nisar also criticised the party leadership for convening the CWC to endorse a decision that had already been made in Lahore.

“What is the purpose of this meeting when we have already learned about the nomination of the acting party president through media reports?” a source quoted Chaudhry Nisar as saying during the meeting, which was presided over by party chairman Raja Zafarul Haq.

Questions need for CWC meeting after Nasar’s nomination

The meeting, held at Punjab House, was also attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

On Wednesday, PML-N Spokes­person Dr Asif Kirmani had announced Senator Nasar’s nomination as the acting president, in line with the party constitution and the notice issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), requiring PML-N to fill the vacancy created by Nawaz Sharif’s ouster.

Sources said Chaudhry Nisar and some other senior party members were unhappy over the role of certain ministers, MNAs and political advisers of Mr Sharif, who had openly critcised the Supreme Court-appointed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that probed Panamagate.

Those privy to the meeting also quoted Nisar as saying that, in his opinion, the matter of the Panama Papers should not have gone to the Supreme Court in the first place.

Without taking any names, sources said, the minister told the meeting that everyone knew who had brought Nawaz Sharif “to this point”.

At this point, Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri asked Chaudhry Nisar to name those individuals, but the former minister did not.

He, however, endorsed the viewpoints of Khawaja Saad Rafique and Mushahidullah Khan, who had also expressed annoyance with the party’s decision-making process.

The former interior minister was of the view that the party should have avoided a confrontation among institutions. Asking the party members to keep ground realities in mind, Chaudhry Nisar said confrontational politics did not suit the party, or Nawaz Sharif.

At a news conference days before the announcement of the Panama Papers verdict, the former minister had confirmed, for the first time, reports about an internal rift within the party, saying he had been excluded from the consultative process on Panamagate.

The press conference was held after a party delegation, which also included Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, managed to dissuade him from resigning in protest.

Party president

The resolution seeking an endorsement of his nomination as acting president was moved by PML-N deputy secretary general and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal.

The CWC also passed a resolution lauding Nawaz Sharif’s “leadership role” in ensuring the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution. CWC members vowed that the party would keep working under the patronage of Mr Sharif and continue the movement to strengthen democracy and the people’s right to rule.

Through another resolution, members appreciated the people who attended Nawaz Sharif’s GT Road rally to show their love for the former prime minister.

CWC members also reposed their confidence in Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the new cabinet.

Senator Nasar, who hails from Loralai, will serve as the interim party head until a new president is elected by the party’s general council.

Although he belongs to Balochistan, Mr Nasar was elected to the Senate from Islamabad.

Sources said this was because the party leadership had been unable to arrive at a decision over who would replace former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as the party chief.

Although Mr Sharif himself had tipped his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, as his replacement, a section of the party disagreed with the decision to move the Punjab chief minister from his key position at such a crucial time.

This meant that PM Abbasi, who was to serve as a stopgap PM until the younger Sharif sibling could be elected to the National Assembly, would continue in office until the next general elections.

Party officials are also claiming that former first lady Begum Kulsoom Nawaz might become the next party president.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2017


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