KARACHI: After 24 hours of high drama, which saw a long standing Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi cross over to join Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) rising tide, the estranged leader disclosed that his decision was not emotional nor for power, and taken only after making sure that Imran Khan was not supported by the establishment.
Speaking on the Express News exclusive show, To the Point with host Shahzaib Khanzada, Hashmi revealed that among the primary reasons why he left the PML-N was that he had been pushed out of the core decision making sections of the party along with a number of differences of principles with party leaders.
Hashmi was embroiled in negotiations hours before he flew Multan to Karachi and into the PTI fold at nine am Saturday morning. The previous night, while meeting with party leaders at Khawaja Saad Rafique’s house, Khwaja Asif updated Nawaz Sharif on the phone, said Hashmi. While Sharif asked for his regards to be conveyed to Hashmi, he chose not talk to Hashmi personally. This, pointed out Hashmi, was part of a long chain of distancing moves by the PML-N leadership.
Of the long chain of distancing, Hashmi said that in the past four years Hashmi only had a 15 minute audience with the PML-N chief, “that too at the party convention earlier this year. Furthermore, Sharif never called me to change my mind.”
However, Hashmi said this did not particularly bother him. One of the prime reasons for leaving the party was the fact that he had been shunned from key decision making committees of the party, driven into a “closed room”. “I am at a point where I want to contribute to the party, the country but I was not provided any forum to do that,” he complained.
Hashmi’s differences with Nawaz Sharif were much older. Hashmi had claimed on the floor of the assembly that Nawaz Sharif had to apologise to Musharraf before being allowed to escape to Saudi Arabia. Hashmi had tendered a resignation on that matter but it had been returned later.
Additionally, during the 2008 elections, Hashmi was asked to contest from Rawalpindi despite protestations. “I told Nawaz Sharif that Multan was my home constituency from where I had always won, even against people like Shah Mahmood Qureshi, but he told me to contest from Rawalpindi, against Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, against whom people like Chaudhry Nisar did not want to compete.”
The relationship between Nawaz and Hashmi continued to deteriorate, “I was shunned by Nawaz and he stopped asking me for anything on anything,” he says. Though what seemed to hurt Hashmi the most was that he was never given a reason for it “I kept asking till the very last minute why I was moved into a corner? I am not happy to leave the party, and if they are teary eyed about it, so am I,” he said.
He said that the decision to switch to PTI was neither impulsive, nor emotional “I kept my emotions aside and thought about it for almost 18 months, consulting other members of the party and my constituency over it before deciding.”
Another point of order on which he had a difference with Nawaz Sharif was that the PML-N should have focused on the presidential elections “I told Nawaz Sharif that if we do not focus on the presidential elections then history will never forgive us.”
Hashmi also had a difference of opinion with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Hashmi said that Shahbaz Sharif ignored calls from Hashmi to embark on an official tour of Multan, the supposed capital of south Punjab, and to initiate development projects.
In an ominous sign, the last time Hashmi met Nawaz Sharif it was to request the PML-N chief to strike his name off the party electoral list as the Senior Vice President.
Joining an establishment supported party?
Known as a staunch opponent of the establishment, the host raised the question why Hashmi was joining a political party which lived under the shadow of having support of the establishment. Hashmi answered that “This is one of the questions I asked Imran Khan, whether he was backed by the establishment, and he said that the only time he had had a meeting with General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was in a meeting called by the Prime Minister with a number of Maulvis, in a discussion on drone strikes, and that PTI had no link with the establishment.”
Hashmi went on to clarify that his decision to join the PTI was not to seek power. “Imran Khan provided me the forum I needed to contribute to the country. I will do what I am asked, even without any party designation.”
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