ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and party president Shehbaz Sharif had a meeting at the latter’s chambers in Parliament House on Tuesday where it was decided that the Sharif brothers would not attend the All Parties Conference (APC) called by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
The meeting was also attended by Raja Zafarul Haq, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Rana Sanaullah, Hamza Shahbaz, Rana Tanveer, Khawaja Asif and Ayaz Sadiq. It was decided that a party delegation, led by Raja Zafarul Haq and comprising Khawaja Asif, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ayaz Sadiq and Ahsan Iqbal, would attend the APC instead.
During the meeting, various political issues, including the references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the party leaders, were brought into discussion. Shehbaz also told the party leadership about his meeting with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Following the meeting, the party leaders had lunch at the Parliament House’s banquet hall, arranged by the incarcerated PML-N chief.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah also stopped by Shehbaz’s chamber for a short while to meet Nawaz.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has called an APC for the formation of a joint opposition against the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
When contacted, PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira told media that his party is yet to take a final decision over the matter.
“It would premature to comment. Let Fazl take a decision on the date and venue of the APC then we announce our decision,” he said.
It is worth mentioning that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had earlier told the media himself that he would attend the APC. However, a senior PPP leader told media that Zardari and Bilawal would stay away from the APC and would send a low-level delegation instead.
Earlier, as Nawaz arrived at the Parliament House, Shehbaz received him and the two met each other briefly after which the PML-N president went to attend the National Assembly (NA) session.
WHY IS PML-N STAYING AWAY?
Sources in PML-N told media that Nawaz wants the APC to evolve a broader consensus between the opposition parties instead of being a one-day affair.
“Nawaz wants PML-N and PPP workers to develop a broader alliance between the opposition parties so that a unanimous political view could be adopted,” sources said.
“The PML-N supremo also feels that Zardari is pushing Fazl to exert pressure on the government to avoid being arrested and for this purpose PML-N is also being used,” sources added.
Sources further said that Nawaz wants PPP to support his party’s efforts of removing Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in order to elect another candidate unanimously.
Shehbaz was brought to the federal capital by NAB officials a day earlier to attend the session of the lower house after NA Speaker Asad Qaiser issued his production orders. NAB authorities also took him to Islamabad’s Polyclinic for a check-up before the NA session.
The PML-N president has been in NAB’s custody since October 5 in connection to the Ashiana Housing Society case. Shehbaz and Zardari entered NA together for Monday’s session and held a brief talk. Reportedly, PML-N president and Zardari had agreed to cooperate on national issues and had agreed upon a working relationship and also decided on a joint strategy to deal with problems the country is currently facing.