LONDON: As speculations build about the possibility of him forming a new party, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited party supremo Nawaz Sharif at Stanhope House on Tuesday, spending more than two hours in a one-on-one meeting.

Mr Abbasi arrived in London on Monday and is scheduled to leave today (Wednesday). Sources told Dawn the two had a cordial meeting. As reports of Mr Abbasi becoming disillusioned with the party have intensified, sources said the former PM informed Nawaz that he can “no longer work in the party”, but that the meeting ended on a respectful note.

As he emerged from the meeting, reporters pressed him with questions about his platform, ‘Reimagining Pakistan’, his discussion with Nawaz and whether he had called it a day with the PML-N. However, Mr Abbasi’s responses were guarded.

He said the two spoke about the state of the country. “It is a 35-year relationship between me and Mian sb. I gave my point of view on the current political situation. Our relationship has a deep history.”

To a question about him not wanting to work with Maryam Nawaz, he said, “I have no reservations, no complaints against anyone and I’m not upset. I don’t live life like that.”

When pressed on the question of a new party, Mr Abbasi said, “I have said before there is a need for a new party.”

Fielding questions about Nawaz’s return to Pakistan, he said. “Mian Nawaz Sharif has a role to play. I am not in favour of a big welcome because he has legal issues to address. I was not consulted on the return but I do feel [his] legal issues and injustice[s] done against him should be addressed and fixed.”

Asked about the crackdown against PTI, he said, “May 9 is a unique tragedy in Pakistan. Whoever has taken part in the violence, the government should proceed against them through a process. That is called prosecution, but there should be no persecution. It should all happen according to the law and Constitution.”

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2023

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