Thursday May 30, 2024

All is not well within the PML-N ranks

By Noor Aftab
May 04, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has termed rumours of rival groups in its ranks as ‘imagination’ of some people but ground realities show that ‘all is not well’ in the party circles where some members hold opposing views on highly important political issues, sources told The News here on Sunday.

As far as ‘fire-fighting’ efforts are concerned, the sources said the PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif for the first time included Maryam Nawaz Sharif in the party conference held on video link some days back in which both interacted with each other on different political issues.

Similarly, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former federal minister Khawaja Asif also first participated in couple of online party meetings and then sat together in another party meeting that was held to discuss the issue of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“Later, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also held one-on-one interaction with Shahbaz Sharif and reposed his confidence in his leadership. This all happened due to some intervention at the highest level to put the party on the right track to cope with the rising political challenges,” the sources said.

“But it does not mean that everything is at its right place in the PML-N where hardcore members like Pervaiz Rashid have been pushed to the corner and are often not invited to online party meetings,” the sources said.

The sources said it is due to legal complications that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif is yet to clearly define the future political roles of three bigwigs -- Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz -- that can make things easier for senior party members.

The sources said it was the PML-N’s senior member Khawaja Asif who made a phone call to Shahbaz Sharif on March 20 and told him that the government was going to suspend international flight operations. The sources said when Shahbaz Sharif felt that the government could suspend flight operations for indefinite period, he immediately got permission from Nawaz Sharif to return back to Pakistan. The sources said Shahbaz Sharif at that time also felt vulnerable because since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic various segments started criticising his absence from the country and demanded election of new opposition leader in the National Assembly who could play his due role in the critical circumstances.

They said Maryam Nawaz got quite upset over recent reported interview of Shahbaz Sharif in which he claimed that the establishment was going to bring him to power after 2018 elections, but the narrative of Nawaz Sharif had sabotaged the whole process.

The sources said the party secretary information usually coordinates with media but when Shahbaz Sharif decided to give interview to a private news channel last week, she was not informed about it, adding, “When she came to know about it she reached the residence of Shahbaz Sharif at Model Town (Lahore) at the time of that online interview despite the fact that she was not invited by the party president.”

The sources said former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi clearly stood by Maryam Nawaz and was not in talking terms with Khawaja Asif who had been in the line of fire after announcing unconditional party support for amendment in the Army Act to pave the way for extension in the tenure of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The sources said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had also publicly maintained that if any quarter had any kind of reservations regarding political narrative of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz then he was ready to clear the dust in the best possible manner.

They said the behind-the-scene contacts between Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and one of the key members of PML-N regarding amendments to NAB law and changes in 18th Amendment was taken in bad taste by some members of the party who gave vent to their feelings during their interactions with Shahbaz Sharif. The sources said it is quite interesting to see that Shahbaz Sharif in the past always denied having contacts with the establishment, but now he blatantly admitted his secret dialogues with it before the 2018 general elections.

When contacted, former federal minister Ahsan Iqbal categorically dismissed the impression of any infighting within the party and stated, “The party is united under the leadership of Mian Nawaz Sharif. The rumours about infighting within the party are baseless.”

The PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid told this correspondent, “It is entirely incorrect to say that there is any infighting in the PML-N because all of us have confidence in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif who takes party decisions in consultation with the party members.”

The PML-N Punjab chapter president Rana Sanaullah told The News there is no truth in information about infighting in the PML-N as each and every member of the party believes in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and will act in line with the decisions to be taken by him.

Talking to The News, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “Shahbaz Sharif is my party president and I will follow the directives given by him. I have no conflict with him and we are united under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif.”

To a question, he said, “I have no differences with Khawaja Asif but difference of opinion within the party is essence of democracy. We are all working to convey the message of the party to the people of Pakistan.”

Replying to another question, he said, “Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz also have no conflict and both will work together to serve the people of Pakistan.”

He said, “The concept of national government is not less than a curse so the only way to empower the people is free and fair elections.”