News Analysis |
The top PML-N leadership, yesterday, rejected ‘minus-Nawaz’ formula for the ruling party and warned they would not accept any unconstitutional step in the country. Speaking after a key meeting in London, disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and incumbent Premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi both rubbished rumors of any rift within the party.
However, their assertions were put paid after senior N-League leader Chaudhry Nisar declared that the PML(N) had turned into a party of self-interests. PM Abbasi tried to explain away Nisar’s declarations as “his personal opinion”.
The meeting held at the residence of Hasan Nawaz on Monday was also attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad, Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and both sons of Nawaz Sharif.
The London Plan, which the N League ironically used to taunt its rivals the PTI and PAT, seemed to be not working from the start.
The participants of the meeting also said that there is no space in the political landscape of the country for any unconstitutional step and there is no support from any quarter for such measures.
While the meeting was billed to be a major consultation for the next course of action, it seems to have devolved into a defense of the disqualified Prime Minister. Nawaz is reported to have dominated the meeting by railing against the injustices done to him. He alleged that the Panama Papers trial was not fair and he understands “what is going on currently.”
He also claimed that his supporters had rejected the Panama verdict and had rallied around him as the party feels he was not given a fair trial in the Panama Papers case. He further stated that he would return to Pakistan on November 2 to appear before the accountability court.
Nawaz’s future course of action seems not to be a unified party policy but are steps taken by him in order to counter what he perceives as a rise in power of his brother.
Other leaders were rather mum on the proceedings against Nawaz and focused on the future of the party. Both Shahbaz Sharif and Khaqan Abbasi reiterated their position of keeping Nawaz as the head. They also tried to present a picture of a united and determined political front.
But inside sources tell a different tale. Both Khaqan and Shahbaz are reported to have asked Nawaz not to return to Pakistan. They said that if Nawaz returned, there was a high possibility that he would be arrested and that could lead to difficulties for the PML(N). Khaqan Abbasi is reported to have said that he would be obliged to resign if his leader went to prison.
However, Nawaz has rejected these requests. The sources also assert that Nawaz had also turned down Abbasi and Shehbaz’s requests to adopt a reconciliatory approach and avoid targeting state institutions in his speeches. There are also assertions in the media that the meeting was not an endeavor by Nawaz but more of an attempt by Khaqan Abbasi to keep the party unified.
It was reported that Nawaz was displeased with the fact that attempts by his daughter Maryam to reconcile with her uncle and cousin were rebuffed.
Nawaz’s future course of action seems not to be a unified party policy but are steps taken by him in order to counter what he perceives as a rise in power of his brother. Rumours are rife of a pro-Shahbaz faction emerging within the N-League at the expense of both Nawaz and his heir apparent Maryam Nawaz.
It was also reported that Nawaz was displeased with the fact that attempts by his daughter Maryam to reconcile with her uncle and cousin were rebuffed. Furthermore, the disqualified PM is also said to be unhappy after not receiving the welcomes he expected from party leaders and activists every time he flew back to Pakistan from Britain in recent weeks. Apart from a handful of party leaders, only a few activists would show up at the airport to welcome him.
The top PML-N leadership, yesterday, rejected ‘minus-Nawaz’ formula for the ruling party and warned they would not accept any unconstitutional step in the country
There was also a disclosure of an attempt by the PML(N) to reach out to its former ally, the PPP. It is reported that there have been attempts to thaw the ice between the PML(N) and PPP via backchannels. For this purpose, the mutual friends of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif have been working hard. It is asserted that the PML(N) is highly apprehensive of the current PPP trajectory which seems to be paralleling the course of action of the PML(N) nemesis, the PTI.
The London Plan, which the N League ironically used to taunt its rivals the PTI and PAT, seemed to be not working from the start. The public assertions of a unified party have been impacted by both the declarations of Chaudry Nisar and the failure to resolve internal infighting caused primarily by Nawaz’s paranoia.