LAHORE: Ahead of joint opposition’s proposed protest drive, the PML-N has spoken out its mind about its main demand, saying it is ready to work with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government provided Prime Minister Imran Khan is replaced with someone else from his (PTI) party.

Since the leadership of main opposition parties - PML-N and PPP - joined hands in Islamabad on last Sunday against the Imran Khan government and announced holding a multi-party conference to chalk out its protest strategy after Eid (next month), the PML-N on Thursday came up with a proposition for the establishment to get rid of Imran Khan for making the opposition on table with the (minus-Imran) government for revival of the economy.

“We ask the powerful people (a reference to the military establishment) to get rid of incompetent (prime minister) Imran Khan and bring someone else to replace him. In the presence of this inept prime minister the country cannot move forward,” PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah declared.

Talking to reporters after his meeting with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at Kot Lakhpat jail, the PML-N firebrand said it (opposition) had no objection if the PTI chose a new candidate for the top slot and replaced Imran Khan with him. “The PTI government may be retained but inept premier should be replaced forthwith for the people and the economy of this country,” he said and added that the demand was for the betterment of the economy and the poor.

Party leaders meet Nawaz who directs them to observe Youm-i-Takbeer

Rana Sanaullah, who is considered a close aide to Mr Sharif, warned that if this demand was not met the PTI would solely be responsible for the ‘destruction’. “(In such a scenario) the minimum demand (of the opposition) will be mid-term polls,” he said and asked Imran Khan to better resign as he should have gone for this option when his ‘Aristotle’ Asad Umar had failed badly on economic front causing irreparable damage to the economy.

Former prime minister and senior vice president PML-N Shahid Khaqan Abbasi briefed Nawaz Sharif (in jail) about Maryam-Bilawal led opposition meeting. “We will finalise our protest strategy after Eid. Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F chief) will call the MPC after Eid for the purpose,” he said.

When asked whether PML-N was on the same page with the PPP, Mr Abbasi said: “We had attended Mr Bilawal’s Iftar dinner after ignoring our differences. Maryam, Bilawal and Hamza were sitting on one sofa showing both opposition parties on the same page.”

Mr Abbasi predicted more active role of the PML-N in days to come. “The PML-N will be seen more active. We will decide along with other opposition parties whether to topple the government (after Eid) or it may fall because of its own follies,” he said.

PML-N vice president Senator Mushidullah Khan said the “puppet” prime minister who handed over the country to the IMF was himself corrupt as his fake accounts were traced. “Today the people are remembering Nawaz Sharif because he had delivered. “We will topple this government through democratic way and not with back-door conspiracy,” Mushahidullah said.

Veteran politician Javed Hashmi, who reached the Kot Lakhpat jail on a motorcycle, said he was not favouring sending the PTI government home as Imran Khan himself would quit.

In conversation with the PML-N leaders in jail, Nawaz Sharif said the Imran Khan government had constituted a case of bullet-proof cars against him when it failed to prove corruption (against him). He said the PTI government had failed on every front especially economic and the people were remembering the PML-N era.

Nawaz Sharif also directed the party leaders to hold an event on May 28 to commemorate the Youm-i-Takbeer (when Pakistan detonated nuclear devices in 1998).

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2019