Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has summoned a meeting of his party’s central executive committee following his meeting with PPP leaders Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari.
In a series of tweets, the PML-N said Shahbaz telephoned party chief Nawaz Sharif to “consult” with him on his conversations with the PPP leaders.
The PML-N said that, after consulting Nawaz, Shahbaz decided to summon a meeting of the party’s central executive committee on February 7 (Monday).
The party also shared that Shehbaz had a conversation with PDM chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman about his meetings with Zardari and Bilawal.
The PML-N said that Shehbaz told Fazal that he would take him into confidence regarding the meetings when he sees him face-to-face in the coming days.
During the conversation, both the leaders also agreed to call a PDM meeting. The PML-N said that the date of the PDM meeting will be announced after consultations.
Earlier in the day, former president Asif Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal reached the residence of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif for a luncheon meeting.
Following the meeting, the PPP and the PML-N agreed to use all legal and political options at their disposal to dismiss the incumbent PTI-led government.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and leader Hamza Shehbaz were also present during the meeting.
Shehbaz had welcomed the PPP leaders at his residence while ensuring all COVID-19 SOPs are practised.
It is remembered that Shehbaz had called Bilawal on Friday and invited him for a luncheon meeting on the instructions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Insiders said Bilawal and Zardari had visited Shehbaz to extend an invitation to join the PPP long march. The PML-N, however, demanded that after the march, a sit-in should be held in Islamabad.
But the PPP rejected the idea.
Insiders revealed that during the meeting, Maryam called her father and had him converse with Asif Zardari.
Insiders said that the PPP leaders shared with the PML-N the names of 20 disgruntled PTI MNAs.
THE LUNCHEON MEETING: During their meeting the PML-N and the PPP agreed to make joint efforts and use every option at their disposal to oust the PTI-led government, while the former also promised to give consideration to the latter’s suggestion of moving a no-confidence motion in parliament.
The luncheon meeting held at Shehbaz Sharif’s residence in Model Town, Lahore, was also attended by PML-N Vice Presidents Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz, MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique and central spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb. Punjab PPP General Secretary Hasan Murtaza was also there accompanying his party leadership.
Ahead of the two long marches, one announced by the PPP for February 27 and other announced by the PML-N and its allied parties under the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for March 23, the two sides mainly discussed joining forces during their respective protests.
During the meeting, the PML-N also agreed to consider the option that it had long refused to entertain – moving a no-confidence motion in parliament.
The PML-N told the PPP that it would take its no-trust proposal to its central executive committee meeting and later with the permission of party chief Nawaz Sharif, to the platform of the PDM to build a broader consensus on the move.
Later, Shehbaz told the media that the PML-N had agreed on a common agenda with the PPP of working together for sending the PTI-led government packing.
“Every political party has its own manifesto and its own approach. However, in times of extreme crisis, political parties should come together for the greater good,” he added.
The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly said with the livelihoods of people in extreme peril, history would not forgive them if they did not come together now and agree on a common agenda to play a responsible role.
He said the PPP had a very clear approach for taking the government down, but his party was divided on the matter.
Hopefully we would be able to create a consensus in the party on the issue, he added.
The PML-N president requested Nawaz to call a party meeting with the objective of building a consensus.
He said the PML-N and PPP had a history of working together, citing the Charter of Democracy which was signed in Saudi Arabia.
Shehbaz then talked at length about the government’s failure over the Kashmir issue.
Bilawal thanked Shehbaz for inviting him, his father and the party’s Punjab general secretary to his residence. He also thanked Maryam and Rafique.
He said it was their first meeting with the PML-N after their party’s central executive committee meeting.
He said they had put forward their proposals to suggest a way forward as well as the central executive committee’s decisions. “The PML-N will discuss our suggestions internally to make its final decision.”
Lauding the role played by Shehbaz during times of a rift in the opposition camp, Bilawal said despite the ups and downs in ties, the PML-N president played his role as a leader to keep the parties united.
He said people had lost their trust in the government and parliament should also follow suit by moving a no-confidence motion against the government.
Other than protest, the legal and constitutional option of ousting the government was a no-confidence motion. “We hope all opposition parties will agree to it soon. We are on the same page against the government.”
When asked about different road maps of protests and the previously discussed options of no-confidence and resignations that opposition parties could not agree upon, Shehbaz said they had discussed these issues during the meeting.
“We will work out a way to improve coordination between the two long marches.”
The PML-N president said there were two to three options under consideration.
He added that the PPP had shown flexibility on the matter and all these proposals would put before Nawaz for his approval.
He said the two sides had agreed on a no-confidence motion and work out differences within his own party.
Rubbishing the question on any signals from the security establishment, Shehbaz claimed they were more concerned about the plight of the people and direction in which the country was headed.
Bilawal said the two sides had welcomed each other’s marches. Now the discussion would be to improve the relations between the two parties.
Regarding differences between Maryam and Bilawal, Shehbaz mused that now he was standing in the middle and “both hearts have healed.”
To this, Maryam responded that when it came to the expectations of the people, “we all stand united”.
When Maryam was asked about her tweet in which she gave a veiled reference about Bilawal being a “selected”, she said the “selected” was the one who would soon be shown the door.
Maryam, while speaking to reporters later, was asked that would the government be sent packing by November.
She replied that November was too far away. “This government will be shown the door before it.”
Shehbaz later spoke separately on the phone with Nawaz and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who also heads the PDM, to inform them about the meeting with the PPP leadership.
PML-N STATEMENT: A PML-N official statement read that Shehbaz had taken his elder brother into confidence and convened a meeting of the party’s central executive committee on February 7 (Monday).
Another statement read that Shehbaz had talked to the JUI-F chief and told him that he would take him into confidence in a face-to-face meeting in the coming days.
The statement added that the decision to convene a PDM meeting was taken in the light of discussions between the two leaders. However, the date for the meeting would be announced after further consultations.
A PML-N leader disclosed that it was decided during the meeting that the no-confidence move will be brought against Prime Minister Imran Khan and not against the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.
Both parties have agreed in principle to throw weight behind each other’s long marches, the leader confirmed.
However, he said the parties are yet to hammer out the details and the nature of the support they will extend to each other while pointing out the caveat that it remains to be determined whether it is going to be an all-out support or merely a token one.
“In case it is a token support, only the central leadership will attend other’s long march and if it’s all-out support, each side will ensure that their workers also take part in activity,” the PML-N leader explained.