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PML-N moves to placate disgruntled legislators

Updated December 01, 2017

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LAHORE: These are difficult times for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which has had to take yet another U-turn on the situation arising from the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) saga, and will now try and placate its fractious members rather than initiate punitive action against them for openly violating the party line.

On Thursday, disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif constituted a committee comprising Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Railways Minister Saad Rafique and National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to meet the PML-N’s disgruntled MNAs and hear out their grievances.

“The members will hold meetings with the disgruntled legislators who had skipped the all-important National Assembly session on Nov 21, in which the Nawaz-specific amendment tabled by the opposition was rejected,” a PML-N leader told Dawn. He said the committee had been authorised to arrange a meeting of the angry legislators, most of whom hail from south Punjab.

In response to a question about the PML-N’s change of heart regarding its decision to take action against those MNAs, the PML-N leader said: “Considering the current situation, it is not advisable to issue show-cause notices to disgruntled MNAs.”

Ousted PM forms committee to reach out to fractious MNAs instead of taking action against them

Around two-dozen legislators of the PML-N, including two federal ministers, had skipped the NA session on Nov 21. The PML-N had announced that it would seek clarification from those who had skipped the session without providing a ‘solid reason.’

“We are trying to identify, at the party level, the exact reasons behind the PML-N legislators’ decision to skip the NA session on Nov 21. However, those who had genuine reasons, like being out of the country or ill or with other unavoidable engagements, will not be questioned about their absence,” Senator Pervaiz Rashid had told Dawn.

The bill tabled by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had sought to amend Section 203 of the Elections Act 2017, which lifted the legal bar on a person from serving as an office-bearer of a political party, even if he or she was not qualified to be, or had been disqualified from being, elected as a member of parliament under Article 63 of the Constitution. The PML-N had defeated the opposition’s bill by securing 163 votes against 98 votes in favour of the bill. Subsequently, Mr Sharif had expressed his displeasure during a party meeting about the 20 or so MNAs who had skipped the session.

MNA Rana Umar Nazeer from Gujranwala, one of the MNAs who had skipped the NA session, told Dawn that he felt that it was a good gesture by the leadership to constitute a committee to meet those who were not happy with the party’s recent policy. “I think the railways minister has the temperament to listen to our grievances,” said Mr Nazeeer, adding that the party supported Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s policies to strengthen the party. He stressed that the party leadership should stay away from a confrontation with state institutions.

Another MNA who had skipped the NA session said that the party leadership should have never considered taking action against them because they had not committed any illegality by skipping the session.

The MNAs who had not attended the NA session on Nov 21 include two federal ministers — Sikandar Bosan from Multan and Dostain Domki from Balochistan — and MNAs Sarzameen Kham (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Raza Hayat Harraj (Khanewal), Raja Matloob (Jhelum), Jaffar Leghari (Rajanpur), Qasim Noon (Multan), Sultan Mahmood Hinjra and Basit Bokhari (Muzaffargarh), Mian Najeebuddin and Tahir Bashir Cheema (Bahawalpur), Alamdad Laleka and Tahir Bashir Cheema (Bahawalnagar), Khusro Bakhtiyar (Rahim Yar Khan), Chaudhry Bilal Virk (Nankana Sahib), Najaf Abbas Sial (Jhang), Rana Umar Nazeer (Gujranwala), Dr Nisar Jatt (Faisalabad), Nazir Khan from Fata, Khalid Magsi (Balochistan), and two women legislators on reserved seats Arifa Khalid and Asma Mandoot.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2017