LAHORE: The leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has declared that the party does not need any ‘deal’ (with the establishment) to come to power because it has roots among the masses.
“Deal is needed by those who do not have roots among the masses, like Imran Khan,” said PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz at a press conference on Thursday.
“See the sentiments of the people today... they are calling for Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif to steer the country out of its crises. We don’t need any deal. Let me be categorical that PML-N wants only one thing and that is free and fair polls,” she said.
When asked whether talks were under way regarding former premier Nawaz Sharif’s return to the country, a possibility hinted at by a former speaker of the National Assembly, she said: “I honestly don’t know about whom [non-political persons] Ayaz Sadiq had referred to. Mian Sahib’s return to the country will be decided by the PML-N at an appropriate time.”
Party seeks investigation by a JIT into PTI funding case
When a journalist said her father had left the country in November 2019 “under some deal”, Ms Nawaz rejected the claim and said: “Nawaz Sharif went to London because his life was in danger in NAB’s custody.”
Rana Sanaullah, president of the party’s Punjab chapter, maintained that Mr Sharif was neither interested in any deal with any institution nor ready to get involved in such a dialogue. “Nawaz Sharif has told us categorically to struggle for free and fair polls and the institutions should remain within their prescribed limits.”
He went on to say: “I second the military spokesperson’s statement on a deal [with PML-N]. We are not part of any dialogue regarding any deal with any institution or the establishment.”
On Wednesday, military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had categorically denied that a “deal” was being worked out for Mr Sharif’s return to the country. “Ask those who are speculating, who is doing the deal, what is the objective/evidence? Ask for details,” Gen Iftikhar had said.
Speculations about a possible deal between the PML-N and the establishment picked up after the recent humiliating defeat of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the local body elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, hike in prices of fuel and essential commodities, and statements by senior politicians like Ayaz Sadiq.
Foreign funding report
Flanked by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former senator Pervaiz Rashid, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and Mr Sanaullah, Ms Nawaz called for formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) under the supervision of a Supreme Court judge to look into the ruling PTI’s foreign funding case.
She sarcastically said the haste, which was shown in the formation of a JIT in the case against Mr Sharif and his family members in the Panama Papers investigation, should be exhibited in the case involving the “selected premier”.
“After this damning report of the Election Commission of Pakistan [ECP], Imran Khan should resign forthwith and legal action should be taken against him and other members of the ruling party… over misdeclaration, deliberate concealment, misstatement and fraud,” the PML-N vice president said.
She also sought action against the four employees of the PTI named in the ECP report who allegedly received huge funds in their personal accounts.
The report compiled by a scrutiny committee of the ECP noted that the PTI had received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts.
“Now this is a test of the ECP and the judiciary. The nation wants to see what action these institutions take against Imran Khan, against whom fraud allegations have been proved,” she said.
Mr Khan not only lied about the PTI’s foreign accounts but also tried to sabotage the investigation for seven years, Ms Nawaz said.
Ms Nawaz also called for an apology from those who had tapped one of her private conversations and leaked it to the media.
When a journalist asked her whether she would apologise for her comments about certain media persons, she said: “Firstly, an apology should be sought for tapping my private conversation and then leaking it to a TV channel. Who gave them the right to tap the private conversation of a woman?”
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2022