Nawaz believes time has come to give tough time to govt

Updated 17 Aug 2020

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PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif directs party leaders to take other opposition parties on board. — AFP/File
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif directs party leaders to take other opposition parties on board. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif has directed the party leadership to take other opposition parties on board on doing “aggressive” politics after Muharram.

Mr Sharif wants convening of a multi-party conference (MPC) of the opposition at the earliest for this purpose. Although mainstream opposition parties — the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F — maintain that they are in talks with each other to finalise the agenda of the MPC, the PML-N has reportedly conveyed Mr Sharif’s wish to the PPP and JUI-F leadership to evolve a ‘mutual agenda’ to give tough time to the government after Muharram.

“Mr Sharif thinks that the time has come to take on the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government more aggressively. For this purpose, the PML-N leadership will have to charge up workers to play its part in any joint opposition move in coming days,” a close aide to the PML-N supremo told Dawn on Sunday.

Nawaz Sharif has been in London for his medical treatment since November last year.

The PML-N leader said the party leadership (in Pakistan) had been given go-ahead to ‘fully cooperate’ with the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief in this regard.

Directs PML-N leaders to take other opposition parties on board

“The PML-N is ready to fully cooperate with Maulana Fazlur Rehman and will not disappoint him this time,” he added.

The Maulana is not happy with the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party for ‘ditching’ him last minute before his party’s Islamabad sit-in in October last year and for recently extending support to the PTI government on FATF-related legislation.

“Efforts are under way to hold a multi-party meeting and a Rahbar Committee meeting is likely to be held next week, which will finalise its agenda,” PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn.

Asked about the party’s plan to give tough time to the PTI government after Muharram, she said: “Decisions will be taken on the platform of the MPC as the PML-N is striving for fresh elections in the wake of the government’s failure at every front.”

PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah told Dawn that the opposition would soon sit together on the MPC platform and agree to do “aggressive” politics after Muharram. “Two years of the PTI government have passed and its total failure demands that the opposition should not give it more time,” he said, adding that the PML-N workers were charged and could come out on roads on one call of the leadership.

Asked about hiccups in the convening of the MPC, Mr Sanaullah said: “There isn’t much. Leaders of the opposition parties are in contact [with each other] over the convening of the MPC and will soon finalise its agenda.” Asked whether the PML-N would address concerns of Maulana Fazl, Mr Sanaullah replied in the affirmative: “The Maulana wants to start a protest drive from where he had left off [in November],” he said.

Reportedly, Maulana Fazl had ended his Islamabad sit-in “on the assurance” that Prime Minister Imran Khan would resign by March 2020.

The PML-N ranks are happy to see their workers showing courage in the face of what Mr Sanaullah called police brutality outside the NAB office in Lahore during the arrival of the party’s vice president Maryam Nawaz to appear before the bureau in a land acquisition case.

He said the party workers had reacted and protested because their leadership was present among them.

Maryam Nawaz is also likely to meet the arrested party workers. Some senior PML-N leaders see footprints of Prime Minister Imran Khan in NAB’s summoning of Maryam Nawaz in a new case of acquisition of over 3,500 kanals of land in Raiwind ‘illegally’ by the Sharif family members.

They feel that the PML-N has acquired a fresh impetus by its workers’ reaction to what they call implicating their leader in false cases by NAB. This “strong reaction”, they believe, has sent a message to the quarters concerned that the PML-N workers are capable of taking on the might of the PTI government on roads.

“Since there was no violation of ‘understanding’ with the powers that be from Maryam Nawaz after her father’s departure to London in November last, the new land acquisition case against her has been initiated at the behest of PM Khan, who is not in a mood to spare the Sharif family,” said a PML-N insider, adding that the Sharifs were not sure if the powers that be had any role in opening a new NAB investigation against Maryam Nawaz.

“As per ‘understanding’ [between the powers that be and the Sharif family], Maryam Nawaz was to proceed to London to look after her father, but PM Khan’s reported annoyance over Nawaz Sharif’s departure prevented her from leaving the country. However, there are reports that Maryam Nawaz has stayed in the country to see through the ‘understanding’ with Nawaz Sharif,” the insider said and added that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, who advocated ‘politics of reconciliation’, would have to sit with Maryam Nawaz to revisit it.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2020