Shehbaz accommodates outspoken Javed Latif in cabinet

Published April 20, 2022
A combination photo of  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Javed Latif (R). — DawnNewsTV/AFP
A combination photo of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Javed Latif (R). — DawnNewsTV/AFP

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ‘honoured’ the wish of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif to accommodate Javed Latif in the federal cabinet despite the fact that he does not even have talking terms with Latif since he had raised questions over his (Shehbaz’s) alleged links with the establishment.

Although MNA Latif did not take oath of the ministry on Tuesday citing that he was busy in the party rally in Okara, a PML-N insider said he did so because Shehbaz Sharif would not have been comfortable with his presence at the ceremony. Latif may take oath some other day.

“Shehbaz had to include Latif in his team of 37 with a heavy heart as the latter is a blue-eyed politician of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz who pushed her father (Nawaz) to make him part of the cabinet of the new coalition government,” he said.

The insider said Latif might not attend cabinet meetings on a regular basis because of his sour relations with Shehbaz. There has been no communication between the two since September last following Latif’s outburst against Shehbaz.

The premier is said to have honoured Nawaz’s choice

Javed Latif, who had become a confidant of Maryam Nawaz after being jailed, had told a private news channel on Sept 14 last that four to five leaders in the PML-N were on an ‘assignment’ to distort the party’s narrative (respect the ballot). Indirectly referring to Shehbaz, who advocates the narrative of reconciliation with the military establishment, Latif said: “Those who are on an assignment by the establishment talk about reconciliation. I don’t want to name them but when seasoned leaders cause damage to the party’s narrative this is not possible without an assignment from the establishment.”

Mr Shehbaz reportedly had taken Latif’s comments as his ‘insult’ and also boycotted two back-to-back divisional level meetings of the party in Lahore to register his protest with Nawaz Sharif who is in London. Later, Nawaz ordered issuance of a show-cause notice to Latif to placate Shehbaz.

Subsequently, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal served Latif a show-cause notice seeking reply within seven days regarding his ‘certain comments and allegations’ about his colleagues in the party. But Latif showed ‘no regard’ to the notice saying he did not feel the need to respond to it.

“Since Latif had the blessings of Nawaz and Maryam, he did not bother to show respect to the party president (Shehbaz) or the secretary general thus setting an example in the party that he was above any internal accountability,” a senior PML-N leader who is believed to be from the Shehbaz camp told Dawn. He said Mr Shehbaz would be ‘very uncomfortable’ seeing ‘this man’ in his cabinet.

Latif, an MNA from Sheikhupura district, had gone to jail last year for a few weeks for ‘inciting people against the state institutions’. In a television programme, he had said his party would not say “Pakistan Khappay” (Long Live Pakistan) if anything happened to Maryam Nawaz. After this episode, Latif suddenly became ‘favourite’ of Maryam.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigation into assets beyond means case against Latif has been pending. The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) had also probed him for “illegal land occupation”.

Mr Latif did not reply to Dawn’s queries.

As Nawaz Sharif finalised the names in the cabinet, PM Shehbaz also confirmed this. “Federal cabinet has been formed after thorough consultations with Mian Nawaz Sharif & coalition partners. It is my fervent hope that federal ministers, ministers of state & advisers will provide leadership & resolve the problems of the people. Work, work & only work is our motto,” the premier said in a tweet.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2022

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