LONDON: An hours long meeting took place between opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif and disgruntled Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Aleem Khan in London this week where the opposition’s move to dislodge Prime Minister Imran Khan came under discussion among other things.
The meeting took place as opposition parties gear for a no-confidence motion against PM Khan, who is thundering at his political rivals in public meetings.
A top PML-N source told Dawn the meeting took place shortly after Aleem Khan’s arrival in the United Kingdom, at the Sharif family’s office in Stanhope House. Just days earlier, a source with knowledge of the meeting had told Dawn that the PML-N is keeping “all legal options on the table” to remove Imran Khan though a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly.
The presence of Aleem Khan in London sparked speculations that the PTI lawmaker was here to meet Jahangir Khan Tareen, who is currently in Oxford recovering from a hospital stay and medical treatment.
But the two estranged leaders of the ruling PTI have not met, and Aleem Khan instead called on Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday after mutual contacts arranged the visit.
Outside Stanhope House, when reporters pressed Sharif Nawaz on Friday for answers on the meeting with Aleem Khan, the PML-N supreme leader refrained from commenting.
The source added that though Shehbaz Sharif had not met Aleem Khan prior to his departure for London, he was aware that the meeting was going to take place with his brother.
During the meeting, the sources said, Aleem Khan talked to Nawaz about his political victimisation at the hands of NAB, and his arrest in 2019 in an assets beyond means case.
“Dialogue is a cardinal principle in politics, and we encourage it,” the source told Dawn.
When asked if the senior Sharif and Aleem Khan discussed the possibility of the latter joining PML-N or the slot of the chief minister in Punjab, the source said, “Everything was discussed, as well as current political developments. This is a welcome step, that politicians are meeting despite their differences.”
A party source in Islamabad, who did not wish to be identified, said the meeting between Aleem and Nawaz signals that the only political future for Aleem Khan’s group of MPAs lies with the PML-N, and that Aleem Khan had even met PML-N’s Saad Rafiq and Rana Sanaullah in Lahore prior to his departure for London.
Ishaq Dar was present in the meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Aleem Khan in London, the source said. “We don’t need Aleem Khan to remove the PM through a no-confidence vote. Meetings are welcome but at the moment PML-N is totally focused on the no-confidence. What happens in the Punjab Assembly we will see later.”
Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2022