7 years on, Nawaz’s wounds still to heal

Party issues intra-party polls schedule as Shehbaz ‘to act’ as PML-N chief until 28th

RAMEEZ KHAN May 18, 2024
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the media after PML-N’s parliamentary party meeting in Islamabad. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB/ FILE


The PML-N’s Central Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday accepted “with a heavy heart” the resignation of the party’s incumbent president, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while asking him to serve as acting president until May 28. On this date, the PML-N will hold party elections, likely to reelect his elder brother Nawaz Sharif as the party chief.

The CWC also elected Rana Sanaullah as the chief election commissioner for the intra-party polls. Sanaullah later issued the schedule for the May 28 election in consultation with other members of the election commission—Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Ishrat Ashraf, Jamal Shah Kakar, and Kheeal Das Kohistani.

According to the schedule, candidates will be able to obtain nomination papers for the position of party president from the central office of the PML-N in Lahore during office hours on May 27.

“Nomination papers can be submitted on May 28 from 10 am to 12 pm. The scrutiny of the papers will take place between 1 pm and 2 pm, and the General Council will elect the new PML-N president at 4 pm,” said a press release issued after the meeting.

Interestingly, May 28 is the date when Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons in 1998 during the second government of the PML-N. This date was celebrated as Youm-e-Takbeer until the ouster of Nawaz Sharif in a military coup led by General Pervez Musharraf.

While theoretically all party members can contest the polls for the party president, it is a foregone conclusion that Nawaz Sharif, who holds the ceremonial position of PML-N Quaid since his ouster from power and subsequent removal from the party presidency in 2017, will take back the reins of the ruling party in the election after a lapse of 7 years.

During his address at the CWC meeting, Nawaz once again demanded accountability for all characters involved in ousting his past governments, including former Supreme Court judges Ijazul Ahsan and Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

Nawaz demanded that Justice Naqvi should face National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references like other politicians for amassing wealth beyond his means.

Unlike his party, which spares no opportunity to disparage the PTI and its founder Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif took a more calculative approach, questioning how Imran Khan allegedly went back on his commitment soon after holding a meeting with him.

“After the 2013 polls, I went to Bani Gala and held a meeting with Imran Khan and his party members. We told him that his accusation of ‘35 punctures’ was baseless,” he said, adding that the meeting ended on a positive note with Imran Khan demanding a freshly paved road to Bani Gala.

According to Nawaz, Imran, Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, Tahir Ul Qadri, and ISI former chief Gen Zaheer Ul Islam later flew to London one after the other “to spin a web of conspiracy” against his government.
Referring to this so-called London Plan, he said the PTI and the PAT later staged a marathon sit-in in Islamabad, a protest due to which the Chinese president could not come to Pakistan to inaugurate CPEC earlier.

Nawaz said if it was not for him, the PTI would not have been able to form its government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) after the 2013 polls.

He said he had to convince JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had wanted a coalition government in the K-P, to allow the PTI to form a government in the province as it was the single largest party there.

Read Nawaz’s job to ‘rein in’ leaders bent on dividing PML-N

He said the PML-N even had the chance to dislodge the PPP government in Kashmir but allowed the party to continue their rule.

Nawaz said he was leaving a lot of things for the May 28 meeting.

Referring to his own ouster and subsequent removal from the party, he asked how could “three people” disqualify a prime minister and then even remove him from his party presidency.

He also alluded to former Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s speech at Rawalpindi Districts Bar in July 2018.

“This speech needs to be probed as Justice Siddiqui had revealed that a general came to him to tell him to keep me and my daughter [Maryam Nawaz] behind bars.”

Nawaz said he was not asking for accountability to punish those who wronged him or his party but to hold accountable the people who impeded the country’s growth by overthrowing elected governments.

“If politicians can face accountability, then why not other people including judges?”

He said he was happy to see all the PML-N senior leaders under one roof after a long time. He praised those who stood by him during hardships, saying that such people are worth weighing in gold.

He recalled how his 1993 government was overthrown.

“We don't even know why I was removed then. If the same trajectory as we were following then had continued unabated, we would have been an Asian power if not more.” He said in 1999 he was punished again for making Pakistan's defense invincible by conducting nuclear tests.

Nawaz also talked about his contributions in making motorways, improving the economy, and foreign ties. “The consequence of making Pakistan invincible was that I was declared a hijacker and sent into exile,” he said in reference to the October 1999 coup.

Shehbaz Sharif, during his address, said he was thankful to his party workers and leader, who helped him in shouldering the responsibility he was entrusted with honorably. “This charge was only given to me owing to the injustices meted out to my brother [Nawaz Sharif],” he added.


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