LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) plans to go ahead with its protest today (Thursday) outside the National Assembly against the arrest of its president, Shehbaz Sharif, even after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government accepted both of its demands.
The PML-N had given a protest call on Tuesday when its deadline for summoning the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly sessions and issuing a production order for Shehbaz Sharif had expired.
However, on Wednesday the National Assembly speaker issued a notification to call the NA session on Oct 17 as well as a production order for Shehbaz’s presence in the session. Shehbaz is currently in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with a housing scheme scandal.
Explaining the rationale behind the protest plan for today (Thursday), PML-N Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan said his party had demanded that the NA session be convened by Wednesday or Thursday and by all means before the Oct 14 by-elections.
“Why has the government called a session after the by-elections? We will assemble outside the Parliament House gate number 1 on Thursday [in protest against this delayed session],” he said.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the party had requested the speaker to call an emergency NA session. She said even by law a session had to be convened within 14 days, if requisitioned by 90 MNAs.
“Our demand was to call it urgently… and not with such laxity. This is a matter of utmost importance and should have been taken very seriously,” she added.
Another senior PML-N leader, Rana Sanaullah, said since the PML-N had announced a protest on Thursday, it would go ahead with it. “Our protest is more about the injustice with Shehbaz Sharif. Many mega corruption cases are pending with NAB, but it chose to arrest Shehbaz only,” he said.
Earlier, a protest, led by opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz, was staged outside the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday against the arrest. According to the party, the plan was to a hold one protest on the stairs of the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday and another at the gate number 1 of the National Assembly on Thursday. The remaining protests will be held after the by-elections.
Nawaz to return to politics after by-polls
A senior PML-N leader has revealed that the party is impatiently waiting for former premier Nawaz Sharif to return to politics. He said Sharif, despite chairing the PML-N’s CEC meeting on Monday, made it clear that he would not return to party politics before the chehlum – the 40-day mourning period – of his wife.
“The only reason Nawaz Sharif was compelled to preside over the meeting was Shehbaz’s arrest. However, this 40-day period will end few days after the by-elections,” he said.
According to the PML-N leader, Sharif’s return to politics will greatly empower the party leadership at the grassroots level. “The voice that used to speak against confrontation has been shut after the arrest by NAB,” he added.