Sharif gives green light for mass movement against govt

Nawaz directs PML-N's divisional heads to expedite the process of reorganising the party in their respective areas.

Zia Khan/abdul Manan February 19, 2011

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Chief of his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif has given the green signal for a mass movement against the PPP-led federal government. He has also directed PML-N’s divisional heads to expedite the process of reorganising the party in their respective areas.

Sharif made the decisions at a meeting on Friday. Attendees included PML-N’s heads in four divisions of Punjab, some central leaders and lawmakers from Sialkot district.

The participants were unanimous that the PPP would not be given more time to implement the 10-point economic agenda spelled out by Sharif last month. The PML-N supremo had set the PPP a 45-day deadline to implement the agenda or else its ministers in the Punjab cabinet would be expelled. The deadline will lapse on February 23.

The PML-N agenda calls for eradicating corruption and reducing public sector non-development expenditures. Although the government ‘rightsized’ the cabinet last week, the PML-N doesn’t believe the federal government will be able to implement its agenda before the deadline ends. “We want much more  than this and quickly,” a PML-N member said.

Sources told The Express Tribune that Sharif called upon his party leaders from Faisalabad, Multan, Sargodha and Sialkot divisions to prepare PML-N workers for a mass movement against the federal government. However, he said that he would also meet PML-N’s divisional leaders from elsewhere in the country in order to know the mood of the people.

Sharif had successfully led a long march for the reinstatement of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in 2009. But this time around Sharif would first mobilise his supporters in different parts of the country before launching the anti-government movement, sources said.

Sharif tasked the divisional leaders of his party to mobilise their supporters for the movement that might start somewhere in the last week of March.

After the expiry of Sharif’s deadline to the government on February 23, the PML-N would expel the PPP’s ministers from the Punjab government, sources told The Express Tribune. At the same time, some influential members of the ‘Unification Bloc’ would be offered ministries in the provincial cabinet.

Sources said that Sharif has convened a meeting of PML-N’s divisional heads and the party’s lawmakers from Southern Punjab on February 24, where he would make a formal announcement to this effect.

The ‘Unification Bloc’ is said to have approached Sharif and expressed their willingness to join the cabinet, if the PPP ministers are expelled.

However, a PML-N leader said his party would first ask the PPP ministers to resign voluntarily. “If they don’t, the chief minister reserves the right to expel anyone from his cabinet,” he added.

Simple mathematics shows that the PML-N does not need the PPP support to hold onto power in Punjab. The ‘Unification Bloc’, comprising 47 dissident legislators from the PML-Q, met Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif last week and promised to stand by him ‘under any circumstances’.

The bloc enjoys a majority in the PML-Q which has 80-plus lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly.

With 171 members, the PML-N would have a comfortable majority in the assembly with the support of the 47 PML-Q lawmakers, in case a no-trust motion was tabled against Shahbaz Sharif.

The PPP, with 107 members in the assembly, would become irrelevant in the new power game in Punjab.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2011.

Correction: February 19, 2011

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article had stated the deadline as January 23. The actual date is February 23.


QuranVsHadith | 10 years ago | Reply Can't this country make it through one term with a democratically elected official without a revolt and uprising? It seems none of these people knw the meaing of the word democracy. There is no ONE person to be blamed....may as well rate them as a teacher of kindergarden would with 5 year olds...."Does not play well with others" and "Needs to Use words not Fists and Teeth to resolve issues". This is all a game to them....our lives are a joke and we are only here for their amusment.
saleem muhammad | 10 years ago | Reply I don't know what he want (can) to achieve with this mass mobilization. It was the leadership of PPP which convince this stupid man to come to the elections and to the parliament. Is there anyone to tell him that Parliament is the place and not the streets. I am wondering how he can lead these mass movements when during his public addresses he remained far far away from the masses with a security glass.
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