LONDON: Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi dismissed on Thursday reports of rifts within the parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and said if a party walked away from the alliance it would hurt itself politically.
Mr Abbasi is in London for a few days after travelling to the US, where his sister and brother-in-law were critically ill due to Covid-19. He will be returning to Pakistan this week after getting a Covid test.
Mr Abbasi refused to confirm media reports that he had met PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif in London, as he was prohibited from leaving home under the UK’s quarantine rules.
“The establishment’s interference in politics has to end and all the parties have had enough of it,” he told Dawn. “Even if a party in the alliance is to break away for some reason, it will destroy itself politically. This interference has hurt all of us and simply cannot continue — all political factions know that.”
When asked to comment on the reported fresh arrest warrants issued by the National Accountability Bureau in the LNG corruption reference, the former premier said: “Jail does not scare me. I don’t look forward to it, but I have been there before and they can put me there again.”
When pressed on the PDM’s plans for a long march, he said the march would take place but was not the endgame. “We want the prime minister and the regime that were installed to be removed — nothing short of that. I am aware that a protest movement cannot in itself deliver a regime change, but it will send a message to those who brought Imran Khan that their time is up.”
He denied that there was a backchannel dialogue taking place between the opposition and the government. He was of the opinion that “it is futile”. “There is no point talking to this government. It simply has to go,” Mr Abbasi added.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021