Saturday October 16, 2021

Nawaz writes to Fazl, backs ‘Azadi March’

October 11, 2019

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) supremo, Nawaz Sharif, has reportedly given a go-ahead to the party leaders and workers to join the ‘Azadi March’ on Islamabad under the leadership of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Also, according to sources, the former premier has sent a letter to the Maulana, containing a message that he wholeheartedly supported his ‘Azadi March’ and its objectives, along with his party’s leaders and workers, and wished that the march succeeds in achieving its aims and objectives. He assured the Maulana that the PML-N would stand by him in his struggle to restore the rule of masses in the country and rid the nation of an illegal and fake government, formed as a result of a fake mandate. However, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb dubbed the reports about Nawaz’s letter to Fazlur Rehman as baseless. Talking to the media, she expressed ignorance about any such letter or message by Nawaz Sharif for the Maulana.

However, Nawaz Sharif’s decision was conveyed to the media by his son-in-law, Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, on his return from Kot Lakhpat jail on Thursday. He met the PML-N supremo along with his children and Nawaz’s mother, and then told the media outside Kot Lakhpat jail that former premier had sent a message to the party leadership and workers that “every citizen who loves the country should follow Maulana Fazlur Rehman, to save the country from total disaster and to remove the obsolete and change the rotten colonial system, which had prevented the nation from development and progress for the last 72 years.” Capt Safdar said Nawaz Sharif declared that the march was for achieving the objectives for which he (Nawaz) had been suffering as a political prisoner, and for securing freedom of Kashmir and bringing honour to the ballot and democracy in the country. Nawaz asked his son-in-law to convey to people that the struggle against the oppressive forces would bring victory to the ideology of the rule of masses. He said the exit of the fake government, installed through stolen mandate, was now the writing on the wall.

On the other hand, Thursday’s scheduled official announcement by PML-N leadership to join or refrain from ‘Azadi March’ was deferred for Saturday, as the party president, Shahbaz Sharif, could not go to Kot Lakhpat Jail to meet his elder brother for seeking his final go-ahead, as was decided by party’s central executive committee meeting the other day. Shahbaz was forced to postpone his visit to jail, along with other family members, after his chronic backache became intensely unbearable, sources told The News. He is expected to make the official announcement on Saturday after necessary discussions with the party leadership, added sources.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Shahbaz Sharif had strongly advocated against the PML-N joining Fazlur Rehman’s ‘Azadi March’ for various reasons. The main reason is that the Maulana is making it a solo flight. And if his move backfires, then it would be seen as a major political defeat of the opposition parties giving a new lease of life to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, which is already crumbling under the weight of its massive political and economic blunders, and the U-turns of its leader Imran Khan. According to reports, Shahbaz Sharif, while expressing views at a private meeting, said he had already conveyed his opinion to the central leadership and also to the central executive committee. However, the PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Zahid Bukhari, while talking to The News, denied Shahbaz opposing the proposal to join the ‘Azadi March’. She said Shahbaz Sharif had expressed his reservations regarding the solo flight of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and about the slim chances of its success, but he did not oppose it outright. She said many senior and junior leaders in the meeting had expressed similar views about Maulana keeping all cards to his chest and not revealing as to what would be the actual objectives of the march, if there would be a sit-in, and for how many days and at what cost. She said many leaders cited that the Maulana did not listen to PML-N’s advice of postponing the march for one month, or to call an all parties conference for deciding the modalities of the anti-government movement.

Shahbaz Sharif, in his reported talk, said he was not seeking to replace Nawaz Sharif or to betray him for obtaining the key leadership office of the party. “I had been offered to become prime minister bypassing Nawaz Sharif four times, but I had always refused. If I betray Nawaz Sharif, even my children will never forgive me, even in my grave,” he was quoted as having said. Shahbaz made it clear that he could never bear the outcome of rebelling against Nawaz Sharif, and not even think of such a thing. “I can give up politics rather than betraying Nawaz Sharif,” he was quoted as saying so. Shahbaz was cited as saying “I have a difference of opinion with Nawaz Sharif on some issues, but the final decision about the ‘Azadi March’ will be taken by Nawaz, and I will go by it whatever he decides.

“I have been opposed to the politics of confrontation and I have tried to convince others many times, but I could not. I fear that in case the ‘Azadi March’ fails to achieve its objectives, then it would be considered a defeat of the opposition parties and it will give a new lease of life to the ill-equipped and incompetent PTI government.” Meanwhile, members of the Sharif family on Thursday visited the Kot Lakhpat jail to meet imprisoned Nawaz Sharif. Mother of Nawaz Sharif, Begum Shamim Akhter, son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar and other members of the family met the former premier.