PTI lawmakers desperate to jump ship: Maryam

PML-N leader says disgruntled ruling party MNAs, MPAs don’t want to contest elections on PTI ticket


RAMEEZ KHAN April 24, 2021
Maryam Nawaz addresses a news conference in Lahore. SCREENGRAB

LAHORE:

PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz has said the apparent rebellion of the ruling party’s lawmakers has more to it than meets the eye and that the MPAs and MNAs who have rallied around PTI’s disgruntled leader Jagangir Tareen are using the crackdown against Tareen only as a pretext to jump ship.

“These MNAs and MPAs do not want to contest the next election on the PTI ticket. They dread the thought of even going to their constituencies, let alone contesting polls on the PTI’s ticket.

“They do not want to face the wrath of the people. They do not want to bear the brunt of their government’s incompetence,” Maryam said in a press conference held after a rather protracted silence that she maintained in the wake of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) fiasco.

 

The PML-N leader also claimed that these disgruntled lawmakers are “in contact” with the PML-N as well as other parties but refused to state in categorical terms if the PML-N is ready to open its doors for Tareen and his cohorts.

When asked, whether she will welcome Tareen if he contacts her, Maryam said: “Why would he contact me, he would contact [PML-N supreme leader] Mian Nawaz Sharif and [PML-N President] Shehbaz Sharif, who are superior to me.”

Tareen was once considered a close friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, the PTI’s former secretary general was side-lined after an inquiry report about a sugar crisis accused him of benefiting the most from a steep hike in prices of the commodity in January 2020.

As the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) intensified its probe into Tareen’s alleged role in the sugar crisis, a number of PTI lawmakers started rallying around him with speculations about emergence of a possible forward bloc in the PTI.

According to Maryam, the PTI’s disgruntled lawmakers are “smart people” and they know the pulse of their constituencies. “This is why they are looking towards other parties. The selectors pressured these people to join the PTI but now they want to jump ship.”

Karachi trip cancelled

Maryam who was to leave for Karachi on Saturday in order to campaign for a PML-N candidate at the upcoming NA-249 by-polls announced that she has cancelled the trip as “any political activity will pose threat to human lives in the wake of recent spike in coronavirus cases”.

“It will be wrong to put people in harm’s way for political gain. I have taken the decision after talking to Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shehbaz Sharif,” she added.

She chided the PTI government for not serving the people of Karachi. However when she was asked if the PPP, which is ruling the Sindh province for more than a decade, is not equally responsible for the plight of Karachi, Maryam said “it is up to the people to decide who is to blame”.

She said even though the PML-N is fielding a candidate at the by-election against a PPP candidate, she enjoys good relations with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and other members of his party.

Maryam said the PPP decided to abandon the PDM – an 11-party opposition alliance – and chose a separate path “but it would have been better if this had not happened”.

To a question about the future of the PDM, she said the PDM is still intact and its meeting on April 26 will decide the future strategy of the alliance.

“The PDM has managed to throw the government off balance with its activities and the government has not been able to stabilize so far.” She said Shehbaz will represent the PML-N in the PDM meeting. Maryam, however, did not categorically confirm if she is going to attend the meeting or not.

Shehbaz, Fazl discuss political situation over phone

Meanwhile, PDM head Maulana Fazlur Rehman has telephoned PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif a day after he was released from the Lahore prison on bail in the money laundering case.

During the telephone call, the JUI-F chief congratulated Shehbaz on his release and expressed his best wishes.

The opposition leader in the National Assembly thanked Fazl as the two leaders discussed overall situation in the country and issues related to the PDM agenda.

Fazl took Shahbaz into confidence regarding convening a meeting of PDM leaders.

The two leaders expressed concern over the surging coronavirus cases and death rate as well as the dwindling supply of oxygen in the country.

(With input from DNA)

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