Islamabad march: Nawaz asks Shahbaz to evolve opposition consensus

Updated October 04, 2019

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PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif meets former premier Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat, briefs him on meetings with JUI-F chief. — Reuters/File
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif meets former premier Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat, briefs him on meetings with JUI-F chief. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: Amid Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s ‘unilateral’ announcement to hold the Islamabad lockdown (Azadi march) on Oct 27, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday directed PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif to evolve a consensus among opposition parties so that a joint struggle could be launched to rid of the ‘selected’ PTI government.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif met Nawaz Sharif at the Kot Lakhpat jail and briefed him on his meetings with Maulana Fazl and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and PML-N central executive committee members input on the proposed Azadi march.

“Mian Nawaz Sharif wants consensus among the JUI-F, PML-N, PPP and small parties regarding the Islamabad lockdown. He asked Shahbaz Sharif to evolve consensus among the opposition parties. He also told him to convey his message to Maulana Fazl that solo-flight (by JUI-F) may not achieve the desired results,” a PML-N insider told Dawn after the meeting.

“Although both PML-N and PPP have some reservations on modalities of the march, Mian sahib is quite optimistic that the three main opposition parties will agree on ‘common grounds’ and launch a joint effort to get rid of this selected government,” he said.

“The main points of disagreement among the three parties on the lockdown are as how long the sit-in will last in Islamabad, how will hundreds and thousands of people gathered there will be controlled, if Prime Minister Imran Khan doesn’t resign despite this what option the demonstrators have. Since the opposition does not enjoy the support of umpire how come PM Khan be forced to give in to the demand of the sit-in holders, chaotic situation in the capital (in the wake of sit-in) may benefit the other player at the end of the day,” a source involved in the talks among the opposition parties told Dawn.

He said basically the opposition parties were unanimous to send Mr Khan home, but the main fear of PML-N and PPP was the failure of the sit-in. “We told Maualana Fazl that we need a concrete plan to oust the imposed premier otherwise the failed effort may give him further oxygen to prevail ,” he said.

Earlier, PML-N had asked the JUI-F to defer the march till month so as to allow main opposition party to mobilise its workers to dislodge the government.

Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Maryam Auranzeb refuted a report about Shahbaz-Nawaz jail meeting in which it was claimed that the opposition leader in National Assembly had refused to lead his party in the Azadi march because of his health condition. “This is baseless and propaganda news,” she said and added the PML-N would hold the party meeting soon to discuss the strategy in the wake of JUI-F’s announcement of Oct 27 Azadi march.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2019