Tuesday May 28, 2024

In-house change: ‘Punjab formula’ failed to attract PML-N leadership

A couple of PPP members held an informal meeting with the PML-N representative in November and maintained that the ground was ready to bring an in-house change in Punjab

By Noor Aftab
March 30, 2021
(L-R) PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maryam Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif addressing press conference in this file photo.

ISLAMABAD: The alleged ‘Punjab formula’ aiming at bringing an in-house change in Punjab was first presented to the PML-N in November last year when the PPP was wrongly hopeful that it would get attention of the PML-N leadership, sources told The News here on Monday.

The sources in the PML-N, who are privy to the developments related to this Punjab formula, confided to this correspondent that a couple of PPP members held an informal meeting with the PML-N representative in November and maintained that the ground was ready to bring an in-house change in the Punjab province.

“The PPP members during the meeting claimed that the PML-Q and ‘powerful quarters’ were also onboard over the ‘Punjab formula’. The PML-N representative told them that he would inform his leadership about this plan,” the sources said.

They said at the time when the PPP approached the PML-N with a plan to bring an in-house change in Punjab, seven members of the Punjab Assembly belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) approached former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

They said these PTI’s members told Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that they were ready to support any move by the PML-N against the Buzdar-led government.

The sources said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was informed about the PPP’s proposal and message of PTI members, adding “Nawaz Sharif maintained that the PML-N wanted to change the system instead of changing faces." He stated the PML-N would not become a part of efforts to bring a no-confidence motion against the Punjab government.

They said the situation took a turn when PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah also informed his leadership that dozens of PTI members were approaching him and wanted to give some message for Nawaz Sharif.

The sources said when all this was happening, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz broke her silence within the party and told her father Nawaz Sharif that Usman Buzdar was ‘Achilles heel’ of Prime Minister Imran Khan and he would sink the ‘boat’ of the PTI government.

“Maryam Nawaz opined that the PML-N should not support the idea of an in-house change in Punjab and pursue its struggle to change the system where ‘powerful quarters’ interfere in electoral politics and elections to install their puppets in the power corridors,” the sources said.

The sources said when Nawaz Sharif gave cold shoulder to the PPP’s proposal, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari decided to approach PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz, who was released on bail. They said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held a meeting with Hamza Shahbaz and informed him about the ‘Punjab formula’, adding “later, Bilawal Bhutto also met Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and discussed this formula with them.”

The sources said former president Asif Ali Zardari then decided to himself raise this issue during the PDM meeting, where Nawaz Sharif blasted the ‘Punjab formula’ stating the PML-N was not interested in in-house change in the Punjab province. The sources said that the clear-cut stance taken by Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz did not allow the ‘Punjab formula’ to make inroads into the ranks of PML-N, which is still adamant that there is a need to change the system not just faces.

When contacted, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told The News that, “I am not supposed to reveal those things that are considered secret by the stakeholders. The ‘Punjab formula’ is not a new thing but it never ever attracted the leadership of PML-N that is putting in its best efforts for the supremacy of the Constitution in the country."

To a question, he said: “I am a political person and members of other parties can contact me. Senior party members are part of decision-making process, so they inform the party leadership about political developments -- both overt and covert -- and then the party takes decisions.” Replying to another question, he said: “I personally know how many PTI members from the Punjab Assembly are ready to jump from the sinking ship. But I have already said it is up to the party leadership to take a decision in consultation with senior party members.”