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ISLAMABAD: Public statements by two senior PML-N leaders opposing rapprochement with PPP and ANP in the context of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) when Shehbaz Sharif, the President of PML-N, was reportedly trying to wooing them back into the movement should be grounds for show cause notice.

This was the consensus after Business Recorder carried out interviews with many PML-N leaders though no one was willing to say it on the record. The matter, sources added, was almost certainly discussed between Shehbaz Sharif and the party supremo Nawaz Sharif as the two reportedly talked on the phone subsequently however details of the talks have not been made public.

One senior PML-N leader on condition of anonymity stated: “Shehbaz Sharif is president of the party and if he had initiated an effort to bring the opposition parties on one platform should it have been supported by all within the party. Opposing these efforts through media statements certainly warrant show-cause notices.” He said Maryam Nawaz and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi are senior party leaders and they should have presented their opinions within the party instead of through the media.

“Whatever you say, an impression has already been created of a serious rift within the ranks of PML-N and the top leadership should avoid bringing this to the public,” he observed when it was pointed out that PML-N spokesperson Marriyam Aurangzeb has denied any rift in the party maintaining that the PDM related issues were not discussed during the dinner reception hosted by Shahbaz Sharif on May 24.

“The PDM related issues were neither discussed nor any invitation extended [to PPP and ANP] or any proposal floated in this regard,” she maintained, urging the media to refrain from ‘speculations’ with regard to Shehbaz Sharif’s reception.

She further maintained that Shehbaz Sharif in his capacity as leader of the opposition in National Assembly hosted parliamentary leaders of the opposition parties with a view to chalking out a joint strategy in the forthcoming budget session and to challenge the government’s “false” figures relating to the economy.

However, this was denied by PML-N leaders who attended the reception and told this correspondent that the PML-N president did discuss issues relating to PDM with PPP senior leaders including Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Sherry Rehman who attended the reception. They further contended that Shahbaz Sharif also urged PPP as well as ANP to rejoin the PDM for an “effective” voice both within and outside parliament. Both the parties had sought some time to discuss the proposal with their party leadership.

In Tuesday’s meeting with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PDM’s president, PML-N president urged him to play his role in bringing PPP and ANP back to the PDM.

In her media talks on Tuesday, Maryam Nawaz strongly opposed rejoining of PPP and ANP into the PDM unless both the parties respond to the show-cause notices issued by PDM’s secretary-general Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for nominating Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate which she described as a ‘betrayal’.

She also backed Abbasi’s stance who had threatened to quit as the PDM’s secretary-general, if the PPP rejoins the opposition alliance without responding to the show-cause notice.

Speaking at a news conference in Badin on Wednesday, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also responded to Maryam Nawaz’s remarks, saying PPP would only consider Shehbaz Sharif’s approach as the PML-N’s policy.

“Shehbaz Sharif is PML-N’s president and leader of the opposition in National Assembly. We only consider his [Shehbaz] approach as the PML-N policy. We are not answerable to Maryam Nawaz or Nawaz Sharif, but only to PPP’s jiyalas,” Bilawal said in response to a query during media talk in Badin.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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