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Top PML-N leadership discusses defections, caretaker set-up

    LAHORE: Prime Minis­ter Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif and supreme leader Nawaz Sharif at their Jati Umra residence on Saturday, and discussed with them his meeting with Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, and his consultation with opposition parties over the nomination of a caretaker prime minister.

    The PML-N only issued a picture of the three leaders at the meeting, but a party insider told Dawn that the meeting lasted more than five hours.

    Other PML-N leaders inc­lu­ding National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, senators Pervaiz Rashid and Asif Karmani, former law minister Zahid Hamid, Shahbaz Sharif’s sons, Hamza and Salman, Adviser to the PM on Finance Miftah Ismail, Railways Minister Saad Rafique and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanullah had also joined the meeting at different points.

    Abbasi briefs Nawaz about his meetings with CJP, opposition parties

    “PM Abbasi briefed the Sharif brothers on his meeting with the CJP, consultation with opposition par­ties, especially the Pak­is­tan Peoples Party, over the nomination of caretaker pri­me minister, and his visit to Afghanistan and the United States,” the source said, adding that the youn­ger Sharif had informed party leaders about his recent interaction with disgruntled party leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and conveyed his reservations to them.

    Other party leaders discussed the delimitations case in the Supreme Court, and the pros and cons of introducing a law or ordinance to suspend the Nat­ional Accoun­tability Ord­i­nance (NAO), 1999, before and during the caretaker government.

    “The party’s legal brain Zahid Hamid presented his viewpoint [on various issues],” said the source, and some senior party leaders also gave their input in this regard.

    Nawaz Sharif on Friday had hinted at suspending the NAO (before and during the caretaker government) to stop certain powers from using the National Account­ability Bureau (NAB) for forcing PML-N leaders to change their loyalty ahead of upcoming election.

    “NAB is targeting PML-N’s politicians. It is trying to implicate our key politicians in frivolous cases. The recent defections from our party are the result of systematic pressure,” Mr Sharif had said at the time.

    On the other hand, the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claims that many PML-N leaders have expressed willingness to join the Imran Khan-led party.

    A PML-N leader from Punjab told Dawn that Nawaz Sharif had asked his younger brother to be vigilant with regard to defections from the party. “You should personally contact those in the party who have made up their mind to defect and redress their grievances. This is a testing time and we should not turn this into a matter of egos,” Nawaz was quoted to have told Shahbaz.

    The political leaders discussed how they could arrive at an understanding with Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah over the nomination of a caretaker prime minister. “They also pledged to foil any attempt to delay the election under one pretext or another,” the PML-N leader said, adding the former prime minister had also directed PM Abbasi and Shahbaz Sharif to take their allies on board when it came to taking important decisions.

    Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2018

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