PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Saturday dispelled rumours that PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was considering going against his brother PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, saying Shehbaz would have become the prime minister if he was disloyal but "he rejected all offers".
Maryam was speaking to the media at the Sharifs' Jati Umra residence in Lahore before leaving for Sindh where she has been invited by the PPP to attend a rally tomorrow on the death anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Before reaching Garhi Khuda Baksh in Larkana, she will also address a PML-N workers' convention in Sukkur later today.
The PML-N vice president was asked why Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) secretary general Muhammad Ali Durrani called on Shehbaz in Kot Lakhpat jail to convey a message from party chief Sibghatullah Rashidi, better known as the Pir of Pagaro, instead of approaching her or other leaders.
Maryam responded that the party had received several messages, including from government ministers, for negotiations but after not getting a response, "people were being sent" for negotiations to meet the incarcerated leader.
Maryam questioned how "such personalities" were allowed to visit Shehbaz in Kot Lakhpat jail without any "issues or obstacles" when even his family was not allowed to meet him. "This clears a lot of things," she said.
She also dispelled rumours that Shehbaz was considering going against his brother Nawaz, saying that it had been "proven in the past and today that Shehbaz Sharif is very loyal to his brother and his party".
"If he was not loyal, then there would be no need to bring this inefficient prime minister to power, [Shehbaz] would have been made prime minister. He has rejected all such offers and the proof of that is him and his son being in jail," she added.
On Thursday, Durrani had told Dawn after meeting Shehbaz in jail that the PML-N leader was "asked to play his role in stopping the opposition from resigning from the assemblies as the move could wrap up the democratic system".
"There is a need to initiate a grand dialogue among the national institutions and politicians, make the parliament functional and gather all Muslim Leagues under one platform," he added.
Durrani claimed Shehbaz also "agreed to the proposal of Pir of Pagaro" but told him, "I cannot play any role as long as I am in jail."
When asked whether Durrani's meeting with Shehbaz was also related to upcoming by-elections for the National and provincial assemblies seats, Maryam said that there was a debate within the party and there were two opinions.
"The overwhelming opinion is that we should not participate in the by-elections. We can sacrifice a few seats when we know this government is going," she said, adding however that the final decision would be taken by Maulana Fazl and the PDM on Jan 2.
Responding to a question regarding the possibility of a dialogue with the government, Maryam said: "I believe Mian sahb (former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif) has made a very determined decision. [Pakistan Democratic Movement chief] Maulana Fazlur Rehman is very clear and all leaders of the PDM are very clear that no negotiations will be held with this fake government. These attempts [to negotiate] are so they [government] can get an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) from the PDM which they will not get."
Maryam said she had so far received 159 out of 160 resignations from PML-N lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly and one was remaining because the MPA concerned was hospitalised and had been put on ventilator. She had also received resignations from 95 members of the National Assembly (MNAs), she said.
Referring to the recent controversy in which the NA Secretariat issued notices to two PML-N lawmakers — Murtaza Javed Abbasi and Sajjad Awan — for confirmation of their resignations which they denied they had sent to the NA speaker, Maryam said: "Nobody can expect Murtaza Javed Abbasi and Sajjad Awan to quit. They themselves are surprised how their resignations reached there."
She said all party lawmakers had been directed to send resignations to the PML-N leadership by Dec 31 and then, if the PDM decided to do so, the party leadership would submit the resignations to the NA speaker.
The PML-N vice president said those who were trying to create rifts among party members would not be successful. "Even our members know the future is not PTI's. They tried to do that with JUI-F and it backfired. People are very aware now and if you bring forward party dissidents and bring them into the mainstream, people understand it and it will not work."
Charter of democracy
Maryam said she was "very happy that I am going to Benazir Bhutto" on her 13th death anniversary. "She gave her life bravely for this country. It is an honour for me to attend her anniversary."
She said that the Charter of Democracy given to the nation by Benazir and Nawaz changed history and now she, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and all leaders of the PDM would take it forward.
She also emphasised that while all parties under the PDM's banner had different ideologies, they were "all united for Pakistan".