LAHORE: A ‘rebel’ group of six PML-N MPAs is active again to enhance its numbers to form a forward bloc reportedly on the wish of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to consolidate his position in Punjab.
Group leader Nishat Ahmed Daha from Khanewal who reportedly invited some ‘30’ PML-N MPAs to a dinner he threw on Wednesday insists the number of rebel MPAs in the PML-N is now well above seven.
“A good number of MPAs have joined our reception and let the appropriate time come to show the numbers,” Daha told Dawn on Thursday.
The PML-N says the desperate effort of ‘struggling’ Buzdar to form a strong forward bloc in the PML-N could not be materialised as only six turned up in the reception out of 30 invited. When asked if the chief minister had given him the task to gather at least 25 MPAs to form a forward bloc, M Daha said: “I am not given any such task but many in the party (PML-N) will join us as they have to serve the people of their constituencies as we cannot do so from the platform of PML-N.”
Information minister says Buzdar is there to stay
Taking about the PML-N leadership, Daha said: “Why the leadership (Nawaz Sharif) is abroad… why he does not come back to his people.” He said CM Buzdar had listened to their (rebel group) problems they were facing in their constituencies and did the needful.
Earlier this month Daha and five other PML-N MPAs — Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharaqpuri, Muhammad Ghiasuddin, Azhar Abbas Chandio, Faisal Khan Niazi and Chaudhry Ashraf Ali Ansari — had met CM Buzdar for ‘seeking funds for their constituencies. PPP MPA Ghazanfar Ali Khan Langah also had a meeting with the CM. These MPAs met the chief minister for the second time.
“Since Usman Buzdar is facing ‘covert’ opposition of different groups in the PTI that are trying their best to oust him, he is desperate to carve a forward bloc in the PML-N for his support and also to prove to Prime Minister Imran Khan his guts. Today Mr Buzdar must be disappointed by Daha’s effort,” PML-N lawmaker Samiullah Khan told Dawn.
He said that Buzdar had bet on a “weak horse from the south Punjab to woo the support of more PML-N MPAs. Buzdar had given Daha the task of increasing the number of disgruntled PML-N MPAs up to 25/30 to consolidate his position in the face of threats to his office by his own party stalwarts,” Mr Khan said.
Regarding action against the six rebel MPAs, Samiullah Khan said show-cause notices had been issued to them and opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz and PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah were considering legal action against them.
A PTI insider told Dawn that making an effort to carve out a ‘strong forward bloc’ in the PML-N was Buzdar’s ‘own initiative’ in order to consolidate his position in the face of his weak standing in his own party. “No footprints of the establishment are found in this case, otherwise, to achieve any number like 25 or 30 MPAs for forward bloc in the PML-N could not have been impossible considering the failed attempt of the joint opposition in the Senate to oust chairman Sanjrani,” he said.
The names of Aleem Khan, Mohsin Leghari, Special Assistant to PM Zulfiqar (Zulfi) Bukhari’s cousin Syed Yawar Abbas Bukhari, Aslam Iqbal and Hashim Jawan Bakht are doing the rounds for possible replacement of Buzdar.
Buzdar however still enjoys the support of PML-Q, which has 10 MPAs in the Punjab Assembly.
In the face of speculations that Prime Minister Imran Khan has made up his mind to replace Buzdar, Federal Information Minister Shibli Fraz on Thursday dismissed such reports and wrote on his twitter account: “Chief Minister Punjab, Usman Buzdar is going nowhere. All speculations regarding his departure are Mala fide and baseless.”
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2020