LAHORE: Unconcerned with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s efforts to make inroads in Punjab politics, sources in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) claim to be gearing up for political activity of their own as they anticipate the return of party president Shehbaz Sharif in March, The Express Tribune has learnt.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was on a long trip to Lahore to revive his party’s politics in Punjab. Thus far he has kept his engagements limited to meetings and has not reached out to potential voters of Punjab but he is expected to visit Okara, Sahiwal and Pakpattan from March 17 to 19 to address workers’ conventions. Prior to that, he is expected to address a women convention on March 5, students of a private university on March 7 and the High Court Bar Association on March 10, according to Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Parliamentary Leader Hasan Murtaza who said that Bilawal was expected to leave on March 10 and then return after a short while to Lahore.
He said the PPP would make a strong comeback in Punjab through its ideology. He said it was the only anti-establishment party in the country and was the only party that truly represented the people of the country. He also said there was a great misconception about the performance of the PPP in Sindh and that a lot had been done there which they would show by arranging visits of journalists from Punjab, adding that the party did not project its performance.
He further claimed that the PPP had never lost its turf in Punjab and that the party’s second tier leadership had been dismantled to dent its position in the province. He vowed that the party would reclaim its lost ground and that it would not engage in the politics of division, and claimed that a lot of things said by the PPP chairman had been taken out of context.
It is pertinent to mention here that PPP chairman Bilawal has during his trip to Punjab termed the Nawaz Sharif government selected and was recently quoted as saying that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had given an NRO to Nawaz Sharif. Furthermore, at about the same time, PPP senior leader Aitzaz Ahsan has also bashed the PML-N.
PML-N leaders, meanwhile, have refrained from reacting to any of these statements amid hopes of forging an opposition alliance with the PPP to take the PTI government down. A PML-N leader, on the condition of anonymity, has said that Bilawal was not a threat to his party in Punjab and that responding to any of Bilawal’s statements would only elevate his position, adding that his statements were not worth responding. The leader said the PML-N was preparing for workers’ conventions of its own.
The leader also said his party was expecting Shehbaz Sharif to return in March and, immediately after his return, the party would organize events and was planning to give Shehbaz Sharif a warm welcome upon his arrival and to kick start political activities. He said many of these plans were being given final touches and that no plan had yet been finalized.
The leader further said senior PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal would leave for Karachi this week to meet with the leadership of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He also said they would also try to meet with the MQM-P leadership.
Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi were not available for comment.