PML-N activists gather around the car of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif outside his residence in Raiwind before his departure for airport. — White Star
PML-N activists gather around the car of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif outside his residence in Raiwind before his departure for airport. — White Star

LAHORE: There is a sense of discontentment in the PML-N ranks with regard to the ‘silent’ departure of the party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif for London to seek treatment for his complicated ailments there, background interviews reveal on Tuesday.

If some are disturbed over not being given a chance to meet the former prime minister, or at least see him off, others are skeptical about the ‘collective leadership’ concept stated to be given by Nawaz for running the party in his and younger brother Shahbaz Sharif’s absence from the country.

PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif is accompanying Mr Nawaz, apparently to look after arrangements for his elder brother’s treatment in the UK and then possibly the US.

“It’s very disappointing that none of the party leaders was given a chance to meet Mian sahib (Nawaz Sharif) before his departure for London. There is a sense of discontentment among us that we could not directly convey our good wishes, prayers and love to him,” a senior party official told Dawn.

A PML-N MNA from Faisalabad division says many in the party are also unhappy at the ‘indecision’ shown by the leadership during the Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led sit-in, that provided a sigh of relief to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government. He asserts that the government could not have survived had the N League put its weight fully behind the JUI-F by wholeheartedly supporting the Azadi march and the Islamabad sit-in.

“It’s very astonishing that sometimes we adopt the narrative of ‘vote ko izzat do’ (Respect the Vote) and when time comes to win that respect, a mysterious silence shrouds the leadership,” he added.

Another party leader expresses his surprise at the ‘unofficial’ announcement of the committee supposed to lead the party in the absence of the Sharif brothers. At least Shahbaz Sharif, if not Mian Sahib himself, should have announced the “collective leadership” arrangement if the situation demanded so, he says.

He points out that the committee lacks representation from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. It comprises Khwaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb and party chairman Raja Zafarul Haq.

He fears that the omission of representatives from GB and AJK where general elections are due next year will hurt the election campaigns of the party candidates there.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019