Candid talk with a PML-N loyalist


He is all smiles. He loves to socialize and finds good out of the worst. He serves the people without any reward. Naturally characterized as eloquent, insightful, soft-spoken and easy-going, he is furthering his mission for the true democratization of every segment of the society, political parties and the parliament. He is a social agent, a thinker, a reformist and a politician. His name is Muhammad Mehdi. Mehdi has proved to be the best in shouldering every responsibility and fulfilling task assigned to him in a befitting manner. In the beginning, he was tasked to strengthen the bond between Tehrik-e-Istaqlal and the masses. He did wonder.
Being a founding member of Awami-Qiadat Party, made by Gen (r) Aslam Baig, he was assigned the jobs of the AQP Youth President, political advisor to chairman and central information secretary from 1996 to 2003. Mehdi showed his brilliance. Later, his political transition ended in PML-N when he shook hands with Nawaz Sharif in Jaddah during exile in late 2003. The same year he was put into test to compile Begum Kalsoom Nawaz’s book “Jabber and Jamhuriyat”. After he presented best work in compilation, publishing and circulation of the book, Mehdi was officially appended with PML-N. His joining news made the headlines, as it was a critical time when people, who once were very loyal to Sharifs, had been quitting PML-N, considering it politically dead.
Senior politicians also made a big laugh and termed his joining a stupidity. Sharif tasked him to run the office of foreign affairs coordinator in 2006, a slot never created in any political party but Mehdi assumed the office’s charge as a challenge and played the role of a bridge between foreign diplomats and Sharifs, at a time when PML-N was alienated and needed candid ties with foreign countries to sensitize international community for democracy’s promotion in Pakistan. He was also the one who represented PML-N in the introductory ceremony in which Barak Obama made his maiden speech after winning elections.
While talking to Pakistan Today, PML-N central leader Muhammad Mehdi flanked by Tariq Gil who is amongst those who made their ways into political parties through student politics and made their presence felt by individual personas full of eloquence, insightfulness, socialization and contribution to plant the sapling of democracy, said that democracy had come to fruition and it was high time to protect it from any tumult. On a question, he said that PML-N gave up demand of judicial commission in Abbotabad operation after the parliament decided to form independent investigative commission, saying that party deemed the parliament supreme.
However, he said that if the government tricked in this regard, PML-N had all options open. “These options are that party MNAs and MPAs may quit the federal and provincial parliaments, PML-N could call for snap-polls and also bring the public on the roads like the Long March,” he said. Dispelling an impression that PML-N has fear of boots and that is why is playing a role of friendly opposition to save the system, he said that the party did not feel any threat neither during the Long March nor during ongoing critical juncture. “We have never compromised on democratic system, independence of parliament, judiciary and executive,” said Mehdi.
“We quit the federal cabinet, risked Long March, criticized the government for messing up institutions, harming economy, banging up sovereignty, following the Musharraf’s policy on defence and security, presented 10-point charter of demand to reverse the situation and later sent packing PPP ministers from Punjab Cabinet,” he said. He questioned if all these steps showed that PML-N was a friendly opposition. Mehdi claimed that Nawaz Sharif’s popularity graph was still on rise. He called the PPP-PML-Q alliance an extension of NRO, saying that the political marriage drew a line between the democratic and non-democratic forces.
This had helped people to decide whom to elect in the next general elections, he added. He said that ISI chief General Pasha misled the parliament with assurance that ISI political wing had been shut down. Mehdi said that ISI political wing was still operational. Laying down strong recommendation about overhauling the foreign office and revisiting the foreign policy, he said that army and ISI should be under civilian control and the parliament should decide parameters of ties with foreign counties, relation with India, strategic depth in Afghanistan, breaking the begging bowl and rejuvenating the economy. He disproved the popular perception that Nawaz had a personal grudge with the army, as a natural outburst of ire when his government was overthrown in 1999. He assured that PML-N and Nawaz Sharif did not have uneasy and sore ties with the army. “We do not have any bitterness. We respect army as an institution that has no other role but to protect the borders.”