Much-hyped PML-N CEC undecided on no-trust move

Published February 8, 2022
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif presides over a meeting of the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) from Lahore on Monday. — Screengrab via PML-N Twitter
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif presides over a meeting of the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) from Lahore on Monday. — Screengrab via PML-N Twitter

• Nawaz tells meeting to gear up for protest movement
• Shehbaz asked to contact other parties to build consensus for ousting PTI govt

LAHORE: The PML-N’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting on Monday remained unable to decide about moving a no-confidence motion against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, leaving it to supreme party leader Nawaz Sharif to take a call later when he deems appropriate.

Mr Sharif, meanwhile, asked the participants of the meeting to prepare to take to the streets to build up an anti-government movement.

Talking to the media after the meeting, the senior Sharif said: “Pakistan has been declared the most corrupt country under Imran Khan. People are suffering immensely. In today’s CEC meeting, it has been decided that the PML-N will get rid of this oppressive Imran Khan government, which is the need of the hour. Nothing is more important than getting rid of the government and the PML-N will be at the forefront to accomplish this task.”

His daughter and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz later in the evening tweeted: “Keeping in mind the plight of the masses & government’s ineptitude & failure in every field, there is a consensus in the party that IK government has to go. Every day that it is allowed to stay will add to the misery of the people. Not a single member disagreed.”

The meeting was held through a video link and presided over by the deposed premier from London where he has been staying since November 2019 on ‘medical grounds’. Over 50 party leaders — 26 CEC members, district presidents and general secretaries — attended the meeting.

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif briefed his elder brother, the party quaid, about the PPP’s proposals of a no-confidence motion to send the PTI government home and a joint long march on Islamabad among others. He also told him about the party’s preparations for the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) long march on March 23.

A party insider told Dawn that some senior members spoke very “briefly” and told Nawaz that the entire party stood behind him and would follow whatever decision he took on a no-trust move.

“Nawaz Sharif told the participants to gear up for protests, directing the party secretary general, Ahsan Iqbal, to prepare a working plan for party lawmakers to bring people from their constituencies out on the streets,” the insider said, adding that Nawaz did not seek any details about the no-confidence motion proposed by the PPP against the PTI or if the opposition had the support of the required number of lawmakers to make such a move.

It is learnt that the PML-N has been in contact with over 20 ‘dissident’ MNAs of the PTI, and the PPP with the Jehangir Khan Tareen group that reportedly comprises 30 MPAs and eight MNAs. Besides, the opposition has been making moves to woo government allies – PML-Q and MQM.

After the meeting, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb issued a statement, saying the CEC decided to fully participate in the PDM’s long march on March 23. It was left to Nawaz Sharif to take constitutional, parliamentary and political measures to rid the nation of this “inept, incompetent and corrupt government”, it said, adding the party supremo was also requested to take decisions to save the country and the nation from grave crises.

It further said the CEC members expressed complete confidence in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. “The meeting also mandated PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif to establish contacts with other political parties so that a consensus could be developed at the national level to rid the people of the PTI government.”

The meeting also authorised the party president to liaise with PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other leaders, take them into confidence in light of the CEC meeting’s decisions and in consultation with the PDM. It was also decided that an urgent meeting of the opposition alliance would be convened as soon as possible so the agenda of the CEC meeting could be put into action from the PDM platform at the national level following unanimous and joint decisions.

The meeting also endorsed the decision to reconstitute the party’s parliamentary board and set up a new manifesto committee. “Unbridled” inflation, the government’s alleged surrender of the State Bank of Pakistan’s sovereignty to the IMF, and the Rs16,000 billion loans piled on by the government in just over three years were also discussed.

The PML-N leaders also expressed concern over the rising incidents of terrorism in the country and pointed out how the grave economic state of affairs was another threat that could exacerbate the situation. They strongly condemned the acts of terrorism from across the border in Afghanistan and paid tribute to the armed forces’ personnel for sacrificing their lives for the safety and security of the country’s sovereignty and its people.

The PML-N CEC meeting was held after former president Asif Ali Zardari and his son PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari met PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif at his residence last week and agreed to weigh all options to achieve their joint goal of ousting the government, including a no-confidence move and joint long march.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2022

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