LAHORE: In a move that puzzled political analysts and generated much debate, Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan expressed dissent against the growing impression within the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz had damaged the political party.

“In my opinion Maryam played on the front foot,” he said during a brief media talk in front of the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court, where he had come to cast a vote in the annual Supreme Court Bar Association election.

The PPP leader stressed that Maryam had, in fact, led the PML-N in a testing time.

“If I was a member of the PML-N, I would be saying that Maryam had led the party and taken it out of a tight corner where it was being taken over by Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali and others,” he said, and reiterated that he did not put much store in the opinions against Maryam, even though he was highly critical of the PML-N’s overall policies.

PPP leader says the minus-one formula has never boded well for any political party

Most political analysts and talk-show hosts discussed Mr Ahsan’s statement regarding Maryam on their TV shows later in the day, and mostly expressed surprise at his remarks.

The PPP leader told journalists that the minus-one formula had never boded well for any political party, and stressed that those responsible for pushing this formula would have to be defeated.

He endorsed the PML-N’s decision to run the party under Nawaz Sharif’s leadership.

He deplored the PML-N’s policies, saying that the government in Punjab was spending upward of Rs235 billion on the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project to facilitate 100,000 citizens of Lahore, adding that the amount being spent on the OLMT exceeded the development budget of the entire province of Balochistan.

The citizens of other cities in the Punjab felt ignored and dejected, he stressed. Furthermore, the PML-N had made the lives of farmers a living hell and forced many of them to burn their crops, he said.

Even the residents of NA-120 did not have access to safe drinking water, he said, referring to poor performance by the PML-N government.

Commenting on the results of by-elections in NA-120 (Lahore) and NA-4 (Peshawar), he said victory in a constituency could not be construed as a verdict of 220 million people. “Would you call it a verdict of the whole nation if PPP wins a constituency from Sukkar?” he asked.

The PML-N would face great opposition in south Punjab during the next general elections while the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf would build a stronghold in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he predicted, and added that the PPP would take its share from Punjab in addition to a clear victory in Sindh.

Responding to a query about the new chief of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the PPP senator said he did not have high hopes from the bureau, but added that the new chairman had been appointed in the light of the Constitution.

Retired Justice Javed Iqbal was a hardworking man who knew the law well, he said, and stressed that the new NAB chairman had the opportunity to ensure that there would be no discrimination in holding people accountable, whether they were dealing with cases against the political leaders of Sindh or Punjab.

In response to another query, Mr Ahsan said the inquiry reports of the Model Town and Abbotabad commissions should be made public.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2017

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