Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif welcomed former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator Enver Baig on Wednesday. At his press conference in Islamabad, Sharif also announced his appointment in the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).
Talking to the media, Sharif said Baig, a close associate of the late Benazir Bhutto, had been at odds with President Zardari and had grown disillusioned with the PPP. His induction is intended as a strong message to rival parties, most notably Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), regarding the PML-N’s lure for important leaders.
Baig’s membership is the latest in string of cross-party movement towards the PML-N and signals a growing trend as the party seeks to strengthen its ranks for the upcoming elections. Sources privy to party developments told The Express Tribune that PML-N has invited all disgruntled sitting and former legislators from all other political parties and has formed three committees to conduct appropriate negotiations. The former PPP senator’s own induction was approved by Nawaz Sharif following a recommendation from one of these committees.
The party chief is reported to be personally monitoring the activities of these committees which have the sole mandate to coax disgruntled members into joining PML-N. While two of the three committees comprise solely of politicians, the third contains a mix of both bureaucrats and politicians.
The party recently inducted Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa president Engineer Amir Muqqam and PPP’s Punjab information secretary Raees Muneer. Sources tip former Pakistan Steel Mills chairman Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum as up for membership as well.
They also reported that Sharif will visit Nawabshah in the third week of April where former MPA Shaukat Shah’s induction will be announced.
PML-N’s Media Coordinator Muhammad Mehdi confirmed the party is currently negotiating with a number of politicians, including former senator Muhammad Ali Durrani. He added that it was party policy to accept warmly those who never harmed PML-N.
According to sources, though, the invitation extends further to even those who were allied with former president Pervez Musharraf during his years in power. In his press conference, however, Sharif made it clear that he was not going to accept those who had quit the PML-N on the former dictator’s call.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.