ISLAMABAD: Politically isolated, the PML-N is reaching out to smaller groups and parties that it had once rejected when their popularity was high.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz members had a meeting with a breakaway faction of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), PML-Like Minded, headed by Senator Saleem Saifullah Khan on Thursday. The PML-N is also in touch with some nationalist parties in Sindh and Balochistan for cooperation.
“The two parties have decided in principle to form an alliance. We will decide the modalities of this alliance in another meeting after Eid,” former federal minister Hamayun Akhtar, a member of PML-Likeminded, told The Express Tribune.
The two sides will give a fresh impetus to an attempt made last year to form an alliance of different Muslim Leagues, a PML-N leader said.
The smaller factions of Muslim Leagues in the past had blamed the inflexible attitude of the Sharif brothers as a main hurdle in forming a united Muslim League. Pir Pagara’s PML-F, Ijaz ul Haq’s PML-Z, Sheikh Rashid’s Awami Muslim League and Chaudhry Shujaat’s PML-Q were to be part of the alliance with the PML-N if the effort had succeeded.
The PML-N is also trying to put its own house in order and patch up with dissident voices within the party. As part of this move, Nawaz Sharif had a meeting with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday and assured him that his grievances will be addressed.
Nisar, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, is reportedly not happy with some policies of the top leadership and has not attended the ongoing NA session so far.
People within the party said Nisar is upset about Nawaz Sharif meeting a real estate tycoon, who is allegedly financing Haji Nawaz Khokar, Nisar’s political rival.
Thursday’s meeting came a week after the failed attempt of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and MNA Khawaja Asif to appease Nisar.
These leaders had met Nisar in London last week before returning to Pakistan some days ago. In the absence of firebrand Nisar from National Assembly, PML-N’s deputy parliamentary leader Sardar Mehtab Abbasi is leading the party in the lower house, but softspoken Abbasi could not make any significant impact during proceedings so far.
PML-N sources said if Nawaz Sharif is able to convince Nisar, the opposition leader may hold a press conference to dispel the impression of his differences with the party’s top leadership.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.