Home Global Village Nawaz & lieutenants discuss ‘future’; Where: London?

Nawaz & lieutenants discuss ‘future’; Where: London?

London

News Analysis |

Senior leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) including Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has arrived in London for an important meeting. Disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left for London from Jeddah, to take part in what is billed as a key consultative meeting that will decide both the party’s and the government’s position in future.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif reached London after which Federal Minister for Finance, Ishaq Dar also joined them. The Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif reached Jeddah the evening before, from where he left for London.

The PML-N insiders described the meetings with Saudi royals as positive and speculated that Mr. Sharif would want to share details of these developments with PM Abbasi and other senior party leaders.

The meeting of the N League bigwigs comes amid mounting pressure on the N League, primarily its president Nawaz Sharif. The disqualified PM, his children and closest financial advisor Ishaq Dar are facing anti-graft charges by the National Accountability Bureau. His daughter and son-in-law have already been indicted in a corruption case.

Read more: Maryam denies rumors about family feud; says Shahbaz is her hero

However, that is not the only issue afflicting the party. The meeting comes in the wake of an interview with the New York Times of Maryum Nawaz. In the interview, Maryum opened a Pandora box when she asserted that it was the will of her family for her to be the next leader of the PML(N). Although she later tweeted that the statement was wrongly ascribed to her, the interview and its retraction have increased speculations of a rift between Nawaz and Shahbaz.

However, many say the damage has been done. Another point is the party position in the 2018 elections. As the Nawaz Sharif clan maintains that the cases against them are politically-motivated and as a result seem to have embarked on a path of confrontation with state institutions. However, the reaction of the voter is yet to be gauged especially after the dismal performance of NA120 and NA4.

PM Shahid Khaqan, on his arrival at Heathrow Airport, alluded to this when he said that there is no place for technocrat government in the constitution and that he had arrived in London for personal reasons.

Then there are the differences within the party. Nawaz became the president after the PML(N) steamrolled controversial legislation through the parliament. It was claimed that this was necessary in order to save the party. However, this has led to challenges both within and without. Several PML(N) members like Federal Minister Riaz Pirzada are in open revolt calling for Nawaz to step down while the opposition in the Senate has successfully challenged the bill required for Nawaz to remain party head.

Read more: Bailable arrest warrants issued for Nawaz

There is also the uncertainty facing the current government with many doom mongers prophesizing a technocratic government in the making. PM Shahid Khaqan, on his arrival at Heathrow Airport, alluded to this when he said that there is no place for technocrat government in the constitution and that he had arrived in London for personal reasons.

The disqualified PM, his children and closest financial advisor Ishaq Dar are facing anti-graft charges by the National Accountability Bureau. His daughter and son-in-law have already been indicted in a corruption case.

Nawaz Sharif has just spent a week in Saudi Arabia and his decision to go to London was a change of plan; he had been expected to proceed directly from Jeddah to Pakistan, where his next hearing is scheduled for Nov 3. Although his trip was initially described as a private one, Saudi officials greeted him at Jeddah airport and reports suggested that he did meet members of the royal family last Wednesday.

The PML-N insiders described the meetings with Saudi royals as positive and speculated that Mr. Sharif would want to share details of these developments with PM Abbasi and other senior party leaders.

Read more: Hamza is my brother says Maryam Nawaz: Really?

Two weeks ago, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also paid a ‘quiet’ visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. However, it is not clear whether the Nawaz Sharif situation was on the agenda.

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