LAHORE: Seeing the PTI government’s ship in troubled waters, some PML-N leaders who had quit the party before the 2018 polls are trying to embrace the ditched party.

Punjab PML-N President Rana Sanaullah Khan confirms that some of those who had ditched the party during hard times, are now approaching through various sources to return to the party folds.

Declining to name the leaders, he says these ‘returnees’ included those from areas as far as Rajanpur besides other districts of south Punjab as well as from Lahore.

No party can shut its doors to the people who wish to join it, he says while responding to a question about the fate of those wanting to return. He, however, says it is premature to give a final word about them as a decision will be taken from the appropriate party platform once normalcy returns to the country after the coronavirus crisis is over.

Aleem denies any telephonic contact with Rana Sana

To the disappointment of those belonging to Lahore, he says those belonging to the party’s strongholds like Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala, may not be easily re-embraced by the party.

Ajasam Sharif, a former PML-N MPA from Lahore who had joined the PTI after he was not given party ticket in the 2013 polls, had recently thrown a party at the rooftop of his house for his old colleagues in the party. Rana Mashhood and Bilal Yasin, two former ministers from the group considered close to Nawaz League President Shahbaz Sharif, were prominent among the participants.

Senior PTI leader Aleem Khan, who was out of the Punjab cabinet around a year ago after the National Accountability Bureau arrested him in a land scam, had also attended this reception.

Ajasam tells Dawn that he had not invited Aleem Khan, with whom he worked in a project and still enjoys good relations, to the gathering and rather the latter had come there with ex-minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman. He seeks to dispel the impression that the sitting had anything to do with developing contacts with the N Leaguers to explore his or Mr Khan’s chances of joining the PML-N.

He insists he has been regularly arranging such get-togethers in which people from other parties like the PPP and Jamaat-i-Islami had also been participating and these are not specific to ‘N’ leaders.

Meanwhile, PTI senior leader Abdul Aleem Khan has brushed aside a news about his telephonic contact with PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah terming it a mere speculation rather gossip.

A news in a section of the press had claimed that Mr Khan had contacted Mr Sanaullah as the former was disturbed over being sidelined by Prime Minister Imran Khan, and discussed political situation in the country.

Though the news claimed that Mr Sanaullah confirmed that he had a detailed discussion with the PTI leader, Mr Khan told Dawn that it was a mere gossip and speculation.

“I didn’t talk to Mr Sanaullah `to discuss political situation in the country’,” he said and added, “I also don’t believe that this all was stated by Mr Sanaullah as referred in a news item.”

He said he had been in Punjab Assembly with Rana Sanaullah and always enjoyed good relations.

Aleem Khan said he had always stood by Imran Khan during party’s testing times and would continue serving the party in future as well.

“PM Imran Khan will decide about any role for me,” he said and added that he would be ready to serve the party.

“I joined the PTI in 2011 to bring about a change in the country and since then standing with the party without any regret and complaint,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020