‘Q’ forward bloc swears loyalty to ‘N’ in Punjab


LAHORE: Following the meeting between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) that racked up a storm in the political arena, the PML-Nawaz on Friday had an “important” meeting with the PML-Q forward bloc in Punjab to take a fresh oath of loyalty.
The meeting, held at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, was hosted by Chief Minister’s Senior Adviser Zulfiqar Ali Khosa, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Hamza Shahbaz and Abid Sher Ali. The forward bloc, also known as the unification bloc, had receded into oblivion after the restoration of the Punjab government by the Supreme Court.
On the invitation of the PML-N, around 44 members of the forward bloc, headed by its parliamentary leader in the Punjab Assembly Dr Tahir Ali Javed, attended the meeting. However, Atta Maneka considered the founder of the forward bloc did not attend the meeting.
An insider told Pakistan Today that during the meeting, members of the bloc talked about the maltreatment and frosty attitude they had experienced after emerging as a PML-N ally. “We were called a strategic asset and promised to be accommodated in the provincial business, but the PML-N did not value the honour,” he quoted a member of the bloc as saying.
The forward bloc head admitted that some members of the bloc had been disappointed by the PML-N’s earlier attitude towards it however, the PML-N had reassured the bloc that it would be given its due recognition for its support to the party in difficult times.
He said that the meeting was called on a short notice, thus some members of the bloc could not attend it. However, he said, all of them were with the bloc and stood united under the umbrella of the PML-N.
Javed also confided with Pakistan Today that informal contacts were still underway with the PML-Q and recently Amir Sultan Cheema, a close aide of the Chaudhrys, hosted a dinner which was attended by several members of the forward bloc.
He also dropped some hints of pressure and contacts by the PPP and the PML-Q to quit the alliance with the PML-N. However, he said, “We believe in politics of principle and we will never sell our loyalty.” Meanwhile, he said that the forward bloc did not feel any imminent threat of change of heart.
Another leader of the forward bloc, Atta Maneka said that the PML-N never honoured the members of the bloc, adding that it was not Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif or PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who had invited the forward bloc for the meeting but the invitation had come from some other PML-N leaders.
Before the meeting with the PML-N, the forward bloc head should have called a meeting to draft a strategy. “I believe that the cold shoulder by the PML-N will run it into trouble,” he added.