London: As the PML-N recovers from the shock of the Punjab Assembly debacle, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal during a visit to London this week termed the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly a “blunder” by the PTI, saying that it is akin to the party shooting itself in the foot.
“The mandate of Pakistan’s biggest province was stolen from the PML-N in the 2018 election. If the provincial government that was looting the province’s resources has now gone, how is this PML-N’s failure,” he said in response to a question about the huge setback to the party after Chief Minister Parvez Elahi called for the dissolution of the assembly.
The remarks were made during a media interaction held at the Pakistan High Commission on Friday, where the minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives was bombarded with questions pressing him for the party’s reaction to the upset in Punjab.
In the wake of silence from the senior leadership in London after the political upset, Mr Iqbal fielded questions from the reporters on the failure of the party leadership to engage provincial lawmakers.
Says Maryam Nawaz to return next week
They come amid reports that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif “lambasted” federal minister Rana Sanaullah over Parvez Elahi’s victory in the vote of confidence and his reported failure to deliver a positive result for the party. No statement thus far has been issued by Maryam Nawaz or Mr Sharif, but sources close to the party said the assembly dissolution was seen as a major blow by the senior Sharif.
“Was it in PTI’s best interest to stay in Punjab or then be replaced by a caretaker government?” Mr Iqbal said at the presser, attempting to put a positive spin on the development. “They [PTI] have shot themselves in the foot. Napoleon says, ‘never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake’ — this was not a mistake, it was a blunder by PTI”.
Asked where the establishment falls in all of this, Mr Iqbal said, “Our struggle was to respect the vote [vote ko izzat do]. The fundamental aim was first the supremacy of the Constitution, second that the establishment should stay away from politics, and third that there should be no undemocratic interference. If today the military’s senior leadership is saying it is apolitical, it is a victory of our slogan.”
“This is what we want, it is a good thing. Imran Khan, however, wants the military to interfere in politics, and wants help to remove us and re-install him.”
Mr Iqbal also confirmed reports of the possible return of Maryam Nawaz, who was recently appointed senior vice president of the party.
“I met Mian sb yesterday with Maryam, they said she is returning within 10 days. Her new role will be beneficial to the party. She fulfilled her duties to the party at an extremely challenging time. She is popular within the public, has a mass following — more than Imran Khan — and she is an asset for the party. She resonates with the young generation.”
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2023