With the upcoming elections for Punjab Assembly in mind, Nawaz Sharif – the PML-N supremo – has tasked selected senior party leaders with preparing a detailed “charge sheet” against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, media reports suggest.
The move aimed at countering Imran comes as Nawaz, sources say, is now the man in charge after the party’s failure to manage the Punjab affairs. And this charge sheet will not be limited to Imran only as his “facilitators” in the establishment (a former army chief and two ex-spy chiefs) and the judiciary (a former chief justice) would also be targeted.
It is the need for a popular narrative like “Respect the Vote” (Vote Ko Izzat Do) which has prompted the decision.
However, the leadership crisis in Punjab – the PML-N stronghold – has also become a major concern for those aspiring to contest the next election on the party ticket. Although the party is being “controlled from London”, local party leaders want Nawaz Sharif to return and lead the election campaign.
Following the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly last week, almost everyone in the PML-N in the province is asking the same question: whether Nawaz Sharif will return to counter Imran or Maryam Nawaz, now the chief organiser of the party, will spearhead the campaign, again.
The PML-N leaders are wary of the party’s poor performance, especially in the July by-polls, under Maryam and they want elder Sharif among them to bolster their chances of electoral success.
In this connection, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed that Maryam was returning from London later this month, but she remained non-committal about Nawaz ahead of Punjab and possible Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections.
Reports say Maryam would start a fresh campaign targeting Imran and his facilitators” in light of the new narrative being framed by the senior party leaders. She will also build a mass-contact campaign and mobilise party workers for the ‘historic’ welcome of Nawaz Sharif if he decides to come before the elections.
The PML-N legal brains are already working on securing court relief for the deposed premier in the Al-Azizia case in which he was handed down seven-year imprisonment. The sentence was suspended by the high court following Mr Sharif’s departure to the United Kingdom on ‘medical grounds’ for a four-week bail.
However, PML-N leader Malik Ahmad Khan says the narrative building was a prerogative of Nawaz and rejected the impression of any leadership crisis in Punjab. Nawaz would return to spearhead the election campaign and defeat Imran in the political arena, he added.