LAHORE: As the Pak­istan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) central executive committee meets on Sunday (today) to decide whether or not its elected candidates will take the oath, party sources said they would like to become part of parliament and lodge protest against alleged rigging in the general election instead of going for a complete boycott.

“PML-N president Sha­hbaz Sharif will present the multiparty conference proposal [to not take the oath] before the CEC and MNAs and MPAs-elect. Since it is a principled stance of the party to remain part of democratic process, it is unlikely that the CEC or elected members would suggest taking such an extreme decision,” a party source privy to the development told Dawn on Saturday.

The suggestion to boycott parliament by several parties, which had rejected the poll results, came up during the multiparty conference on Friday evening. Besides the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, Awami Nati­onal Party, Pakh­tun­khwa Milli Awami Party, Nat­ional Party, Pak Sarz­ameen Party and Qaumi Watan Party also attended the multiparty conference in Islamabad. Following the meeting, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif told the media that he would discuss the matter with other leaders of his party before taking a final decision.

The PML-N source said the party despite having strong reservations against ‘massive rigging’ had no intention to take such an extreme step at this stage. “We must become part of parliament and lodge our protest on this platform at this stage. All other options such as resignations and taking to the streets will still be available,” he said. He recalled that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was also not in favour of boycotting parliament.

The source cited the example of the Pakistan Peoples Party and said it too had termed the polls rigged but rejected the suggestion of boycotting parliament.

“How can the PML-N boycott parliament when the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, PPP, Muttahida Qaumi Mov­ement, PML-Q and some other parties will be part of it? The suggestion reflected extreme frustration of Mau­lana Fazlur Rehman and some other leaders who could not win their seats,” he added.

A PML-N leader said: “Shahbaz Sharif will convey his party’s reluctance to accept the MMA’s proposal (about oath taking) to Maulana Fazlur Rehman after the PML-N CEC meeting. But Mr Sharif will also tell him that his party is very much on board with other parties in their plan for a pro­test movement against the rigging.”

PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan told Dawn that the party’s CEC would take a final decision about not taking the oath.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2018