PML-N mulls strategy in face of arrests

Shehbaz, Fazl put finishing touches to their July 25 protest plan

Our Corresopndents July 21, 2019

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) central executive committee met on Saturday to chalk out a strategy to fill the administrative vacuum left by the recent arrest of its leaders.

The participants of the meeting held at the PML-N's Model Town secretariat and chaired by party president Shehbaz Sharif also discussed the opposition parties' black day which they would observe on July 25 as well as the no-confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

The party's central executive committee demanded the immediate release of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the wake of a forensic test proving the authenticity of a video of former accountability judge Arshad Mali wherein he could be heard saying that he was coerced into convicting the ex-premier.

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The participants of the meeting condemned the arrest of party leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Rana Sanaullah and the raid at Miftah Ismail's residence.

They vowed that the PML-N would fearlessly face the government's acts of "political victimisation".

The party will also raise its voice against the growing inflation and the government's "flawed" economic policies both inside and outside parliament.

The committee noted that reduction in business confidence from 51% to 46% was clear evidence of investors, traders and industrialists' concerns over the way the country was being run.

The participants chalked out a strategy to oust the Senate chairman and replace him with the opposition parties' joint candidate, Hasil Bizenjo. They also decided to wear black armbands and stage rallies on July 25 to protest against the alleged rigging in last year's general elections.

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Raja Zafarul Haq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rashid were among the senior party leaders who attended the meeting.

Maulana Fazl Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman met Shehbaz at his residence in Lahore to discuss plans for the opposition's black day on July 25.

The PML-N will lead the anti-government protests in Lahore while Peshawar has been assigned to the JUI-F.

The two leaders reviewed the arrangements for the black day. PM-N General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal and Vice President Maryam Nawaz were also present at the meeting.

Fazl said last year on July 25, the day when the general elections were held, an incompetent government stole the public's mandate. Later addressing a news conference, Fazl said the traders' countrywide strike against the government's policies was a clear indication that the people had lost their confidence in the current rulers.

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"This government came into existence through rigging the elections and we have rejected it since day one," he added.

The JUI-F chief said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was not really in power and merely being used as a pawn.

July 25 plan Representatives of opposition parties held a meeting at the PML-N's Model Town secretariat to finalise their protest strategy for the black day.

Delegations of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the JUI-F and the Awami National Party (ANP) attended the meeting, which was presided over by PML-N General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal. Briefing the media after the meeting, PML-N leader Uzma Bukhari said the joint opposition would stage a rally at Charing Cross at 5pm on July 25.

"We will only inform the administration [about the rally] for security reasons and won't seek permission," she added.

"On July 25, the people will express their lack of confidence in the prime minister."

JUI-F Punjab leader Dr Ateequr Rehman said the traders' recent shutdown was the starting point of the struggle against the government and the opposition parties' black day would be the second step towards this direction.

"The final round will be in Islamabad in the coming days. We won't return until the government's ouster."

PPP' Punjab parliamentary leader Hasan Murtaza said the opposition parties would stage rallies at different locations on July 25 and would remain in touch with the coordination committee.

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