ISLAMABAD: Refuting the claims of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif about 2018 election defeat, the party’s senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said there is no fault to find with the PML-N for the defeat in the general elections.
Speaking on Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath on Monday, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the PML-N walked into the elections on the basis of its best five-year performance.
His remarks come a day after PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had asserted that the party lost the previous general election as it did not have the "right strategy". He held the party itself responsible for the election rout.
In an interview on Jirga with Saleem Safi on Sunday, Shehbaz had asserted that Nawaz Sharif would have been elected prime minister for a fourth time if PML-N leaders had made a unanimous strategy in the pre-2018 election period.
Talking to Shahzeb Khanzada, Abbasi proposed setting up a truth commission to dig into what happened in the 2018 elections and the harm it has caused the country.
Differing from what Shehbaz said, Abbasi asserted the PML-N contested the election after five years of its best performance and so, the PML-N is not to blame for the defeat.
"We should learn lessons from the past and move forward if Pakistan has to make some real progress," Shehbaz had said in his interview.
He also pinpointed that politicians sought personal interests throughout the history of Pakistan, allowed themselves to be used and pulled each other's legs. According to Shehbaz, blame is shared by all and not a single person or institution can be singled out.
Abbasi, however, did not openly defy what Shehbaz had spelt out. Commenting on the opposing narratives from Shehbaz, Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, Abbasi said politics admits of neither resistance nor reconciliation and it is the principles instead. Shehbaz has always supported running the country in accordance with the Constitution, he said.
Commenting on Shehbaz's remarks about criticism of the military leadership by Nawaz, Abbasi said Shehbaz only meant to explain Nawaz's remarks. He said Shehbaz also mentioned Imran Khan went overboard against the army before coming into power, adding that the PML-N supremo did not criticise the army as a whole.
He repeated his demand that a truth commission be set up, saying it is the only way to dispel the confusion. The [former] chiefs of the ISI and army bring facts to light by writing books and giving interviews and the situation kicks up more confusion, he added.
The former premier said that there is a single narrative of Nawaz Sharif and the party, adding that Nawaz always wants every institution to function within its constitutional limits and the country to be run as per the Constitution. No compromise is possible on law and the Constitution, Abbasi said.
He also said the PML-N will win the upcoming general elections if the masses are allowed to vote in a free and fair election. "If elections continue to be stolen, our country will remain in doldrums," he said.
The PML-N leader emphasised that rigging does not happen solely on election day. In fact, it starts before the elections.
The PML-N recently witnessed defeats in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections and a by-poll in Sialkot as an aggressive narrative led by Maryam Nawaz could not pay off, despite the fact that she pulled in large gatherings in the recent elections.
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