ISLAMABAD: Reeling under pressure in the backdrop of an important court decision on Panamagate expected in the coming days, the PML-N leadership has launched mass mobilisation campaign in a bid to attract public support in order to deal with any kind of political situation emerging in the near future.
Few days back, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Thatta in Sindh. This was followed by his visits to Karachi and Gwadar, respectively.
According to sources in PML-N, the visits are part of the party leadership’s strategy to reach out to the public in case any ‘unfavourable’ scenario emerges in the days ahead.
The premier’s visits to parts of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa including Quetta, Peshawar and other cities in the near future are also under tentative consideration and being finalised, the party insiders said.
In a related development, the PM is chairing a meeting of the ruling PML-N’s Parliamentary Party today (Tuesday). The conclave, it is learnt, has been arranged in demonstration of the PML-N lawmakers’ unflagging support for the premier to deal with, what some circles believe, an imminent political storm in the days to come. In his capacity as president PML-N, the premier is chairing the meeting to formulate party’s strategy to speed up the mass mobilisation drive.
The last parliamentary party meeting was held on August 4 last year under the PM’s chair ahead of the resumption of parleys between federal government and opposition on Panamagate scandal. The meeting also mapped out a strategy to deal with the opposition on Panama leaks
The sources said that Nawaz’s decision to start the mass mobilisation campaign from Sindh had much to do with the ruling party’s weak support base in the province where the ruling party is set to strengthen the N-League’s political presence.
A senior PML-N leader, who is regarded as one of the premier’s trusted confidantes, said the PM consulted his close aides including Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif, Chairman PML-N Raja Zafarul Haq, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and Adviser Ameer Muqam regarding PML-N’s political strategy soon after the apex court reserved its judgement on the Panamagate case last month.
The party’s provincial leaderships in all the four provinces were also consulted before the decision was taken, in principle, to launch mass mobilisation campaign, the source said.
“Stakes are high. We need to complete our ‘homework’ and be prepared for the worst,” the politician said. The ‘relaxed’ environment in the PTI camp, which hopes that the court decision would not serve the N-League’s political interests, has also contributed to the unease in the ruling circles and is a major cause of panic among the PML-N leadership, according to the insider.
“To counter a political foe as formidable as PTI, we need to go for counter moves. If we sit silent and adopt a laidback approach, the political parties are going to cash in on our problems and we’ll be dealing from a position of weakness—as a ruling party, we need to deal with the issue from the position of strength.”
The PML-N’s upcoming public mobilisation plans eye winning over the support of nationalist forces in Balochistan and anti-PTI forces in KP, he said.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Chairman PML-N and Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq dispelled the impression that PM’s recent visits in Sindh and expected visits in different parts of the country were part of mass mobilisation campaign linked to Panamagate.
“I don’t know why it is believed that there is any relevance between the two. The PM is the head of the government. He travels across the country and outside Pakistan. Linking these initiatives to Panamagate gives the impression that he never paid visits anywhere in the country before Panama leaks surfaced. This is far from truth.”
Haq said every political party holds public gatherings and reaches out to public in line with its political preferences and related pursuits.
PM’s Adviser Ameer Muqam confirmed that the premier would be paying visits to ‘some areas’ of the country. Asked about his visit to KP in near future, he avoided a direct response. “It’s for the PM to decide where he has to land but I think the schedule would be finalised in due course—regarding the possible destinations.”