Speculation swirls as Shahbaz in no hurry to meet Nawaz

October 18, 2019

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PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif seems to be in no hurry to meet his imprisoned brother Nawaz Sharif, triggering speculation that he is angry over rejection of his opinion with regard to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) ‘Azadi March’ on Oct 31. — Reuters/File
PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif seems to be in no hurry to meet his imprisoned brother Nawaz Sharif, triggering speculation that he is angry over rejection of his opinion with regard to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) ‘Azadi March’ on Oct 31. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif seems to be in no hurry to meet his imprisoned brother Nawaz Sharif, triggering speculation that he is angry over rejection of his opinion with regard to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) ‘Azadi March’ on Oct 31.

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly skipped on Oct 10 ‘an all-important meeting’ with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat jail, citing his backache. Similarly, he did not press the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to allow his meeting with him (Nawaz) at its Thokar Niaz Baig headquarters on Thursday.

Nawaz has been in NAB Lahore’s custody in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case since Friday.

A party insider told Dawn that since Nawaz had completely ignored his younger brother’s suggestions on the ‘Azadi March’ of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Shahbaz appeared to be registering his protest by way of delaying his meeting with him (Nawaz).

Interestingly, despite his backache Shahbaz met his son Hamza Shahbaz at Kot Lakhpat jail a couple of days ago. Hamza has been on judicial remand in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and assets beyond means cases. Shahbaz also presided over several party meetings.

On Wednesday, the former Punjab chief minister skipped a court hearing in the Ashiyana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases on the ground of ‘severe pain in spine’.

Shahbaz is reportedly not in favour of joining the JUI-F’s protest as it is perceived to be against the powerful establishment which is said to be backing the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government fully. However, Nawaz rejected all the concerns expressed by Shahbaz and some other senior party leaders and directed him to make preparations to join the Maulana’s protest plan, whether it is a rally or a sit-in.

When a reason was sought from PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal for Shahbaz’s act of ‘skipping’ meetings with Nawaz, he said: “Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday wrote to NAB seeking permission to meet Nawaz Sharif.”

He said that in jail Thursday was fixed for meetings but a ‘special permission’ was required to see a prisoner under NAB custody.

Dispelling the impression that there were differences between the two brothers, Mr Iqbal said: “Both brothers are on the same page on the JUI-F’s march. Shahbaz Sharif’s suggestions were more or less the same as Nawaz Sharif’s.”

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is coming to Lahore on Friday (today) to see Shahbaz to discuss the strategy for the protest. Afterwards, they will address a press conference.

Meanwhile, a personal physician was not allowed to see PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz at Kot Lakhpat jail.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said Maryam was not well and despite this Dr Adnan Khan was not allowed to meet her. “In case of any adverse effect of this action on Maryam’s health, Imran Khan will be responsible,” she warned.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2019