PML-N to consider protest campaign against PTI govt

Updated May 17, 2019

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Pakistan Muslim League’s newly appointed vice president Maryam Nawaz will attend an ‘important’ party meeting on May 20 to discuss whether or not to launch a protest drive against the Imran Khan government which is struggling to cope with the economic crisis. — AFP/File
Pakistan Muslim League’s newly appointed vice president Maryam Nawaz will attend an ‘important’ party meeting on May 20 to discuss whether or not to launch a protest drive against the Imran Khan government which is struggling to cope with the economic crisis. — AFP/File

LAHORE: For the first time after getting bail in the Avenfield properties reference about a year ago, Pakistan Muslim League’s newly appointed vice president Maryam Nawaz will attend an ‘important’ party meeting on May 20 to discuss whether or not to launch a protest drive against the Imran Khan government which is struggling to cope with the economic crisis.

On the directive of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday, PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal convened the meeting in Islamabad in which all senior party leaders, including members of the National Assembly and Senate, provincial presidents, vice presidents and main office-bearers, will participate. It will be presided over by PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal. PML-N president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif will not make it for he is in London “for his treatment”.

The PML-N huddle is said to be significant against the backdrop of the announcement by Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari that his party would launch a street protest against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government after Eid. The opposition has not ruled out joint struggle against the government for the latter’s failure to overcome economic turmoil.

Maryam Nawaz will attend ‘important’ party meeting in Islamabad on May 20

Maryam Nawaz has also hinted at launching the protest campaign against the government. “Nawaz Sharif was more concerned about the rapid economic deterioration & the common man’s ordeal than his frail health. He said the PML-N must respond to the aspirations of the masses, stand with them & become their voice,” she said in a tweet after her meeting with her father in Kot Lakhpat jail here on Thursday.

PML-N information secretary Marriyum Auranzeb told Dawn that the party was going to hold an important meeting (on Monday) to discuss economic crisis and other issues being faced by the country. “The party will also discuss the option of taking to the streets against the government. The people are facing unprecedented price hike and inflation and in this scenario the party will finalise its strategy,” she said. In reply to a question, she confirmed that Maryam Nawaz would participate in the meeting.

According to another party leader, the presence of Maryam Nawaz in the party meetings will strengthen the ‘hawkish group’ [in the party]. “The PML-N may take more aggressive position against the PTI government in days to come,” he said.

Maryam Nawaz, who has recently got active on social media, threw down the gauntlet to Prime Minister Khan and took his team to task over their poor performance on the economic front. In a series of tweets, she took on Imran Khan for his government’s failure to arrest depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar. “As if Pak Rupee free fall was not ironic enough, people put in place to control it are those who’ve been imported recently to devalue the currency & decrease our GDP growth. The impact of today’s devaluation- only the foreign debt has gone up by Rs666 billion,” she tweeted.

She said she strongly felt for the masses for the misery brought about by jaali (fake) government in the last nine months. “People have been crushed under the weight of rising prices, increasing gas & electricity bills, joblessness & shrinking incomes. Everything looks bleak.”

Maryam Nawaz further said: “If anyone had any doubt about Naya Pakistan - no need to go further than the daily bloodbath at the stock market and battering of our rupee in the currency market. Asia’s worst performing currency & worst performing stock exchange. Quite a dramatic fall from grace & glory under MNS [Mian Nawaz Sharif] when rupee was stable & Stock Market was one of the best performing in the world MNS is leader of the masses.” She also ran “#BringBackNawazSharif” hashtag on twitter.

In response to a question about the launch of the protest drive, PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid said: “Nawaz Sharif has not yet given protest call. “Mian sahib asked the party to listen to the workers’ concerns. The workers want to take to the streets because like other common man they are seriously affected by inflation and price hike.”

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2019