Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader Nawaz Sharif will attend the upcoming all parties conference (APC) via video link, senior party leaders confirmed after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday disclosed on his social media handle that he had called the PML-N founder to invite him to virtually attend the upcoming opposition parties’ confab.
Bilawal said on his Twitter handle that he had spoken to PML-N supreme leader Sharif to inquire after his health. The Bhutto dynasty scion said that he had invited Sharif to virtually attend the moot to be hosted by the PPP on September 20 (Sunday).
Just spoke to Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. Enquired about his health. Also invited him to virtually attend opposition APC, hosted by PPP, on 20th September.— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) September 18, 2020
This was quickly responded to by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, who appreciated Bilawal for his gesture.
Senior party leader Senator Pervaiz Rashid told The Express Tribune that Sharif accepted Bilawal’s invitation for attending the APC via video link.
He further stated Maryam would also be part of the PML-N delegation for the APC.
Recently, it was reported that Maryam would not become part of the PML-N delegation. As per the reports, the then PML-N delegation mainly included party President Shehbaz Sharif, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal.
Contrary to earlier reports, several party leaders confirmed that Maryam would attend the APC.
A well-placed source within the party revealed it was an understanding within the party that Sharif would attend the APC so Bilawal’s telephone call only provided him with the opportunity formally.
The source revealed that Sharif might not attend the complete session of the APC, but his limited virtual presence would give a message where it’s intended.
The source said that all parties, especially the JUI-F and the PPP, wanted Sharif’s presence in the moot.
The source said that in view of the previous debacle, there were concerns about Shehbaz’s willingness to run any sort of movement against the government, adding that Sharif himself even last time around wanted his party to support Maulana Fazl’s Azadi March despite disagreeing on the timing of the movement. However, in a bid to ensure that the party stands by its commitment this time, both Maryam and Sharif were taking the lead in the matter.
The source said that Shehbaz’s policy of appeasement has led to an increase in the number of cases against the party leadership, adding that the party president was paying the heaviest price for his policies. However, given his approach, many opposition party leaders did not feel that he was the right man to lead the party into a movement, which eventually the APC will decide upon.
The source said that Maryam would also take part in future political activities to build the momentum for a movement, if needed.
Another leader revealed that this would undoubtedly be a meaningful APC, which will decide to go for a street movement. He said that every party wanted to send the PTI government packing, adding that approaches might be different but this is exactly what all parties are attending the APC for -- to agree on a unified approach.
He said that given the concern of the JUI-F, there will be a written agreement between all opposition parties to stand by their word in the future, if all goes according to plan.
It was interesting to note that Sharif’s decision to attend the APC apparently took some leaders by surprise.
Senior PML-N leader Rana Tanveer, when asked about the possibility of Sharif attending the APC during a TV show, said that it was highly unlikely that he would attend the APC. He said that Sharif’s health did not permit him to get involved in such political exercises.
It is also worth mentioning that party insiders had earlier revealed that Sharif would get involved in matters pertaining to the APC given Shehbaz’s role the last time. Sharif reportedly had been in contact with Bilawal and Maulana Fazlur Rehman regarding the APC.