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Friday, February 16, 2024

Former PM Abbasi exerting ‘considerable’ influence over ‘leaderless’ PML-N: Chaudhry

Science minister says PML-N not capable enough to play the role of serious opposition to the ruling PTI, needs to reorganize itself

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday said that the leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) was not capable enough to play the role of serious opposition to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). He added that he believed that the party was lacking in internal unity.

Chaudhry made the remarks while talking to a private television channel over the weekend. The minister took multiple swipes at the top leadership of the PML-N during his interview, saying that the party had an absence of a leader who could listen to competing voices in the group. “PML-N to review its policy and reorganize itself,” he suggested.

“Nobody knows clearly who is running the political affairs of PML-N. The political party will regain its reputation after finalizing its actual leadership that can also take a firm stand on decisions,” he reportedly said. The minister said that there was a general perception that the PML-N leadership was not on the same page on many issues.

Read More: IHC order to surrender: Nawaz Sharif will fall ill again, predicts Shahbaz Gill

“PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, who is the younger brother of Nawaz, is said to be the establishment’s blue-eyed man, who has always opposed confrontation. Maryam Nawaz, vice-president of PML-N, and daughter of Nawaz, carries an assertive and confrontational posture to rebuke the country’s powerful establishment,” he noted.

‘Not clear who is in charge’

“It is not clear yet as to who is in-charge now, as Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former prime minister and a senior leader of the party, has reportedly starting exerting considerable influence over the policy matters of the PML-N,” he added. During the interview, the minister also criticized JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman is pursuing his own dreams while PML-N is making some other plans. PML-N will definitely pay the price if Nawaz Sharif does not return to the country,” he warned. Islamabad High Court (IHC) had last Tuesday ordered the former premier, who is currently in London, to surrender before the court before Sep 10.

An IHC division bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, was hearing appeals of Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in Al-Azizia and Avenfield property references – in which the former premier had sought exemption from court appearance on health grounds.

Nawaz Sharif: A convict and proclaimed offender? 

Chaudhry was of the view that Nawaz Sharif was a convict and had traveled abroad after getting bail from the court. Chaudhry added that the British government would take steps in this regard after being contacted by Pakistani authorities.

Notably, Aitzaz Ahsan, a senior leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and a prominent lawyer, also said that former premier Nawaz Sharif was a proclaimed offender as he had violated the court orders regarding his bail conditions.

Ahsan further claimed that Sharif had taken advantage of ‘forum shopping’ in cases against him, using different courts to win relaxations and relief through a coordinated effort. Sharif had, last year, managed to get bail from IHC instead of the LHC to travel abroad.

‘People mocking the legal system of Pakistan’

He said that Nawaz Sharif had kept insisting the government allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment and PML-N leaders were claiming there were risks to his life. “After going to a foreign country, Nawaz Sharif is seen walking like a healthy person and sending pictures to everyone,” Chaudhry added.

Chaudhry said that people are now mocking the legal system of Pakistan. He said that questions should be raised in the Punjab cabinet regarding the issue of medical reports of Nawaz Sharif as a thorough probe will reveal the truth about his health.

Some political analysts are of the view that Nawaz Sharif seems to have reached some sort of ‘understanding’ with the powers that be in the country. Pakistan’s political history is a witness to such deals in the past. Nawaz himself signed a deal with the former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and left for Saudi Arabia after Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999.

Read More: Will Nawaz Sharif surrender to court on September 10?