ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is set to visit Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore on Monday (tomorrow) to meet former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, presently serving seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia case.
According to PPP chairman’s spokesman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, “the only purpose of Bilawal’s visit to the jail is to inquire after the health” of the ailing supreme leader of the main opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Khokhar said the PPP was concerned over reports that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led Punjab government was not providing required medical facilities to Mr Sharif who was facing multiple health problems including some cardiac issues.
Besides Mr Khokhar, PPP Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira and Jameel Soomro, political secretary to Mr Bhutto-Zardari, will accompany the party chairman to the Kot Lakhpat jail.
This will be for the first time that the leaders of the PPP and the PML-N, the two arch-rivals of the past, will be having a meeting in jail.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari with his father Asif Ali Zardari and other senior party leaders had previously visited the Sharifs’ residence at Jati Umra in September last year to offer their condolences over the demise of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. Terming her death a “great loss”, Mr Zardari had said the PPP stood by the Sharif family and the PML-N in these difficult times.
Mr Sharif, who had been released on a parole to attend his wife’s last rites, had thanked the PPP leadership for visiting him, recalling that a delegation from the party had also attended Begum Kulsoom’s funeral.
Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that Punjab PPP president Qamar Zaman Kaira had last week written a letter to the home secretary seeking permission for a meeting between the PPP chairman and Mr Sharif in the jail with a three-member party delegation.
When contacted, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb praised the young PPP chairman for his decision to meet Mr Sharif in the jail. “I think it is a very good gesture on part of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and it shows political maturity,” she said.
Ms Aurangzeb, who had served as the information minister in the previous PML-N government, said such a gesture by the PPP chairman particularly at a time when the PTI had spoiled political atmosphere in the country was a welcome move.
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2019