News Analysis |
While showing their loyalty to Tehreek-e-Labbaik, many PML-N parliamentarians of national and provincial assemblies from Vehari, Sargodha, Jhang and Khushab have submitted their resignations to Pir Hameed-ud-Din Sialvi.
Sialvi, the sajjadah nashin (caretaker) of the Astana-e-Aalia Sial Sharif, will now decide whether the lawmakers should resign or not. The religious leader, accompanied by the MNAs and MPAs, made the announcement at a press conference at the Astana-e-Aliya Sial Sharif on Sunday.
The lawmakers present there included MNA Chaudhry Hamid Hameed from NA-66 Sargodha, MNA Sheikh Mohammad Akram from NA-89 Jhang, MNA Mehar Ghulam Mohammad Lali from NA-87 Jhang, MNA Dr Zulfikar Ali Bhatti from NA-67 Sargodha, MNA Bibi Bharwana from NA-87 Jhang, MPA Maulana Rehmat Ullah from PP-74 Jhang, MPA Malik Waris Kalo from PP-42 Khushab, MPA Mohammad Khan Baloch from PP-81-Jhang, MPA Nizamuddin Sialvi from PP-37 Sarghoda, MPA Abdul Razzaq Dhillon from PP-33 Sarghoda and MPA Rana Munawar Ghous from PP-36 Sarghoda.
The PML-N still has to contend with the Lahore chapter of the Tehreek e Labbaik Ya Rasulallah who are determined to carry on their agitation till Rana Sanaullah is shown the door.
However, Chaudhry Hamid Hameed and Dr. Zulfikar Ali Bhatti later claimed that they had only visited Pir Hameed-ud-Din to ask him to convince Nizamuddin Sialvi to withdraw his resignation. State Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Muhammad Aminul Hasnat Shah refuted reports of the resignations.
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On Sunday, PML-N MNA Tahir Iqbal Chaudhry and MPA Nizamuddin Sialvi announced that they were stepping down in solidarity with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik. Makhdoom Arshad Qamar Garwah, PML-N Mashaikh Wing president, also announced that he was parting ways with the party.
On Tuesday evening, Punjab Auqaf and Religious Affairs Minister Zaeem Qadri called on Pir Sialvi on behalf of the government to resolve the issue. However, instead of offering a sympathetic ear, Pir Sialvi made it clear to Qadri that the resignations would only be reviewed if Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah resigns and seeks a pardon for his statements.
Pir Sialvi gave a deadline of three days to the government to decide on the matter, and if they failed to do so Sialvi said he would march on Lahore. The Faizabad crackdown seems to have exacerbated existing tensions within the ruling party. These tensions surfaced for the first time with the Panama case that culminated in the dismissal of the PML-N figurehead Nawaz Sharif.
Chaudhry Hamid Hameed and Dr. Zulfikar Ali Bhatti later claimed that they had only visited Pir Hameed-ud-Din to ask him to convince Nizamuddin Sialvi to withdraw his resignation.
During that time, Chaudry Nisar– a main figure in the intraparty schism almost resigned from politics. Ahsan Iqbal and Chaudry Nisar were already at loggerheads in a verbal spate in July 2017 when Mr. Iqbal took jibes at Nisar’s disagreements with Nawaz Sharif. Many contend that the Panama crisis was a catalyst and not an origin of these divisions. It can be asserted that such deepening schisms are due to the structure of the party itself. The PML-N is not a monolith but a collection of groups under the protection of Nawaz Sharif. Major groups in the ruling party are the Maryam Nawaz group, Khwaja Asif group, Shahbaz Sharif group and Chaudary Nisar group.
Then there is the lower tier of PML-N leaders who are usually opportunist turncoats or “lotas” in the local definition. Most of these join the party which they believe is the strongest. They are also heedful of the local politics of their constituency. In this case, the cause against the PML-N is such that no political figure can ignore it.
Moreover, ever since the Panama verdict it has been presumed that many of these “lotas” have been trying to find a way out of the PML-N which they deem to be a sinking ship. They have been trying to find an honorable exit in order to retain a moral edge and not be labeled as opportunists by rivals. The sensitive case of the Khatam-e-Nubuwat seems to have finally gotten them a “way out”.
Meanwhile, the PML-N still has to contend with the Lahore chapter of the Tehreek e Labbaik Ya Rasulallah who are determined to carry on their agitation till Rana Sanaullah is shown the door. Alongside this, the PML-N now has to face a prospective new standoff in the capital with another religiopolitical group the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) which has demanded the government to stand down.
Ahsan Iqbal and Chaudry Nisar were already at loggerheads in a verbal spate in July 2017 when Mr. Iqbal took jibes at Nisar’s disagreements with Nawaz Sharif.
The SIC has warned that if the government does not step down, there has been a unanimous decision that on 12th Rabiul Awwal all related processions, numbering in millions, will march towards Islamabad demanding the resignation of the current government for its role in the amendment.