LAHORE: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday lent support to the speech of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif saying it did not have any “confrontational side” as all politicians should agree that the army should not be involved in politics.

He made it clear that this time round there was ‘no ambiguity’ on resignations from assemblies to send this ‘selected’ government home.

Shahbaz’s comments on the former prime minister’s speech came after reports that there were differences between the two brothers over what many call ‘controversial’ speech of the PML-N Quaid about the military.Deposed premier Nawaz Sharif while addressing the opposition’s multiparty conference via video link from London on Sunday last alleged that there was “a state above the state in the country” and declared that the opposition’s struggle was not against Prime Minister Imran Khan but against “those who had imposed such an incapable person” upon the nation through a manipulated electoral process.

In a talk with senior journalists in Lahore, Shahbaz Sharif opened up about the speech of his elder brother. “No aspect of confrontation with the army emerges from the speech of Nawaz Sharif. He (Nawaz) wants that all meetings with the army leadership should be transparent,” Shahbaz said, adding that the country could progress through reconciliation and consultation.

When asked about his politics of reconciliation, Shahbaz said: “I have been doing politics of reconciliation for the last 20 to 25 years. All politicians should agree that the army should not be dragged in politics.”

The opposition leader in National Assembly parried a question when asked whether he was consulted by Nawaz before his ‘controversial’ speech at the MPC. “I will tell you later,” he said. Shahbaz was categorical that consensus had reached among the opposition parties that no further time should be given to the inept and incompetent government of Imran Khan. “And this time round there is no ambiguity on the option of resigning from the assemblies,” he declared.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had long been persuading both PML-N and PPP to resign from assemblies but they declined. Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced holding by-polls if the opposition resigned.

Shahbaz was of the view that politicians could earn respect only by serving the people. To a question as why Maulana Fazl had been given leadership role in the new opposition alliance against the government, Shahbaz said: “Because he is our elder and from smaller province.”

Shahbaz reiterated that Imran Khan was keen to have him arrested.

Senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif who was also present in the meeting, proposed initiation of national dialogue among the institutions in keeping with the spirit of the 1973 Constitution. “Parliament is losing its territory which needs to be restored,” he added.

Booklets containing details about the projects launched and accomplished by Shahbaz during his stint as the chief minister were also distributed among the journalists.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020