Ousted PM meets property tycoon to seek Zardari’s support

Published September 29, 2017
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.— AP/File
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.— AP/File

LAHORE: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday held a meeting with controversial real estate tycoon Malik Riaz to seek through him the support of Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to overcome the crisis his family is facing.

Mr Sharif’s meeting with Mr Riaz at the former’s Jati Umra residence — also attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif — lasted for about two hours.

The meeting generated a debate in media circles whether some backchannel efforts are under way to secure some ‘relief’ for the Sharif family, but a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz insider did not confirm this. He told Dawn that Mr Sharif wanted the PPP to cooperate with the PML-N in and outside parliament.

Neither the PML-N issued any statement on the Jati Umra meeting nor PML-N leaders like Senators Asif Kirmani and Mushahidullah Khan and Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb responded to Dawn’s calls in this regard.

Shahbaz attends Jati Umra huddle

Malik Riaz was also contacted, but he refused to speak on the matter.

“The Sharif brothers’ meeting with Malik Riaz is important in the current political situation. The former prime minister direly needs PPP support to deal with the challenges he and his party are facing after his ouster,” a source said, adding that Mr Sharif trusted Mr Riaz for delivering his message to Mr Zardari to “fully cooperate” with him primarily to strengthen the democratic set-up.

Mr Riaz is considered very close to Mr Zardari, whom the former is said to have gifted the Bilawal House in his Lahore’s Bahria Town. During the period of the Sharifs’ exile, Mr Riaz came close to them by extending financial assistance to Hamza, son of Shahbaz Sharif, who was here to look after the family businesses. However, since the Sharifs returned to the country in 2007, Mr Riaz could not enjoy cordial relations with them.

In the previous tenure of Shahbaz Sharif (2008-13), Mr Riaz attempted to come closer to the Sharif family when he had reportedly funded the chief minister’s plan to build the project of Ashiana Housing in Lahore, a project of providing low-cost residences to the poor, but differences cropped up after the Punjab government disallowed him and also stopped him through administrative and other measures from buying or acquiring land in and around Raiwind for his business.

Mr Riaz’s close circle is of the view that in the past he tried to broker a deal between the establishment and Mr Sharif. However, it said that he was no more so close to the establishment as to be able to get the role of a ‘errand boy’ for it [military establishment].

On Wednesday, the former premier took interest in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s move ahead of the all-important appointment of National Accountability Bureau’s chief early next month — on the completion of the tenure of Qamar Zaman Chaudhry — and formation of a caretaker set-up in which consultation between the prime minister and the opposition leader is mandatory. He asked National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq and other PML-N leaders to foil PTI’s efforts as its opposition leader would not be acceptable to the PML-N.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2017

Opinion

Editorial

Iran’s counterstrike
Updated 15 Apr, 2024

Iran’s counterstrike

Israel, by attacking Iran’s diplomatic facilities and violating Syrian airspace, is largely responsible for this dangerous situation.
Opposition alliance
15 Apr, 2024

Opposition alliance

AFTER the customary Ramazan interlude, political activity has resumed as usual. A ‘grand’ opposition alliance ...
On the margins
15 Apr, 2024

On the margins

IT appears that we are bent upon taking the majoritarian path. Thus, the promise of respect and equality for the...
Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...