ISLAMABAD: Reports of a rift between two powerful camps in the former ruling party, led by Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, may have been doing the rounds lately, but it appears to be more pronounced since the release of the deposed prime minister from Adiala jail.
In a fresh instance, ex-PM Sharif is said to have taken an exception to the statement made by Rana Mashhood, a provincial minister in the PML-N’s tenure, in which he claimed that matters between ‘the PML-N and [the security] establishment have been resolved’ and that the party would be in power within the next two months.
Talking to a private news channel in Lahore on Tuesday, Mashhood claimed that Shehbaz, the PML-N President, had a huge role in improving the ties with the establishment and ‘sorting out the issues’.
According to well-placed sources in the PML-N, after Sharif’s annoyance, the party moved to dissociate itself from the ex-minister’s statement, terming it the ‘viewpoint of an individual’.
Requesting anonymity, a PML-N senator said Mashhood’s statement did not go down well with Sharif and party leaders close to him. He said Sharif wanted Shehbaz to seek a formal explanation from Mashhood to clarify his position for issuing the ‘controversial’ statement.
PMN-N leader stirs ‘deal’ controversy
“Mashhood is one of the close confidantes of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and his recent statement regarding the security establishment is seen within the party as serving the interests of the Shehbaz camp,” senior PML-N leaders say.
Shehbaz remained in the spotlight before the general elections for trying to ‘reconcile’ with the security establishment and the reports of his efforts to strike a deal kept surfacing.
During a visit to Karachi in June this year, Shehbaz had said that the formation of a national government, comprising various political parties, was the solution to problems the country was faced with.
The statement had created a rift within the party as leaders close to Sharif believed that Shehbaz was trying to win the favours of the security establishment ahead of general elections.
“Shehbaz and party leaders close to him are in favour of building this impression that the PML-N is still relevant and is in contact with the power centres. Sharif, on the other hand, wants to stay detached from the establishment given that his entire political narrative now is anti-establishment,” a former federal minister said.
“For a leader like Mashhood, giving a highly controversial statement involving the security establishment is not possible without the party chief being into the loop beforehand,” he said.
He also referred to serious inquiries, involving corruption, pending with the National Accountability Bureau against Shehbaz, Mashhood and other senior PML-N leaders, and said, “Usually, beleaguered leaders in our country want to look powerful and try to show association with the establishment.”
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