PML-N huddle discusses ‘threats’ as Opp advises caution


–Former PM Nawaz Sharif backs Ayaz Sadiq’s remarks, says ‘it is better to alarm party workers about conspiracy to oust PML-N govt before time’

— Shehbaz Sharif and Khawaja Asif say Sadiq’s remarks may have negative impact on party’s lawmakers

–NA Opp leader Khursheed Shah says govt should tread carefully as ‘he is also getting suspicious of the situation’


ISLAMABAD: Though several senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have dismissed National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq’s apprehensions that the government may not be able to complete its term, the party’s president, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday expressed similar fears regarding the future of his party’s government.

Sadiq, while speaking to a TV channel on Wednesday, had said that though the continuity of the democratic system was critical in ensuring the strengthening of institutions in the country, he “does not see the [incumbent] assembly completing its tenure”.

“What’s happening now has never been witnessed before,” he said, adding that everyone should prioritise national interests instead of focusing on personal benefits.

The NA speaker, however, rejected any possibility of a martial law being imposed in the country, saying the current situation was “worse than the Musharraf regime, but there is no chance of martial law”.

Sadiq’ statement triggered speculations that all is not well in the government.

Responding to the NA speaker’s remarks, Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah said the speaker seemed to be telling the “inside story”, and that the situation “seemed suspicious” to him as well.

“The way his party is under pressure to hold early elections — it can be seen how the roads are being blocked and fights are being fought everywhere — everyone understands the dangers which Pakistan is going through,” Shah said.

“We should move forward with our eyes open,” he warned.


Sadiq’s statement also figured during a meeting of senior PML-N leaders chaired by Nawaz Sharif in London.

Informed sources told Pakistan Today that during the meeting held at Hassan Nawaz’s office, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed annoyance over the statement made by the NA speaker, saying that it would have a negative impact on the party cadres.“Abbasi argued that the statement coming from a senior party leader like Sadiq had sent a very wrong message to the party’s lawmakers in the national and provincial assemblies. This statement could also trigger defections,” the source quoted Abbasi as saying.

The source added that the premier also argued that if the MPs started jumping ship, the party would not be able to get to the Senate elections due in March, which is the first major milestone the party needed to achieve.

The source said that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also agreed with the premier’s argument, saying that the speaker should not have made such a statement.

However, the source asserted that the party stalwarts were taken aback when a calm Nawaz backed Sadiq’s remarks, telling his colleagues that it was better to alarm party workers about the “conspiracy”, as a preemptive act may expose the conspirators.

“Sharif told his men that it is better to attack rather than being killed like sitting ducks. It’s time to act and preempt the conspiracy,” the source said.


Following the meeting, Nawaz Sharif told reporters that certain decisions (by the Supreme Court) had caused political and financial instability in the country.

“I had stated at the Quetta gathering that such decisions would lead the nation to political instability and, finally, economic crunch… Pakistan is passing through an unwelcoming phase and such phases in no way favour any nation. Today, there are hurdles all around, and the country is once again heading towards instability, which is apparent from its economic indicators and the stock market,” he added.

Nawaz said the PML-N government, after a continued struggle of four years, had succeeded in putting the country on the path of economic prosperity.

“Load shedding has been curtailed, terrorist incidents have mitigated manifold and CPEC is progressing at full pace. But the situation that emerged recently is reversing the progress made by the PML-N government,” he added.

“The situation is deteriorating, with the stock market dipping to 37,000 points from previous 54,000 points. Other economic indicators like slowing down of CPEC and economic growth are also alarming,” Nawaz said, adding that it was a regrettable situation that economy was once again bearing the brunt of political instability.

He said, today, power supply was more than the demand, as the PML-N government had fulfilled its commitment to steer the people out of the darkness of previous regimes.


Earlier, PM Abbasi, while talking to media before the meeting, said that the government would complete its term at any cost.

He said the statement made by Ayaz Sadiq was his personal views. He vowed to remove all his apprehensions in this regard, saying the caretaker setup for holding the next general elections would be formed in June next year after the sitting assemblies complete their tenure.

FM Khawaja Asif, when asked to respond to Sadiq’s remarks, said: “I don’t think he has said such a thing […] Ayaz has expressed his concern for the current situation, but has also expressed hope that assemblies will complete their tenure.”

Speaking to journalists in London, Asif said that the crisis was not severe enough to hold the general elections as early as January 2018 or prevent the assemblies from completing their tenures.

“From our perspective, the situation is all right. As far as the opposition is concerned, they do oppose [the government] and it is their right. Other than that, there’s no such thing, and the assemblies will complete their tenure,” the foreign minister assured.


Meanwhile, Opposition Leader in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah seemed to agree to the claim made by Ayaz Sadiq, saying that NA speaker is more aware of the situation.

Shah said the speaker seemed to be telling the “inside story”, and that the situation “seemed suspicious” to him as well.

“The way his party is under pressure to hold early elections—it can be seen how the roads are being blocked and fights are being fought everywhere—everyone understands the dangers which Pakistan is going through,” Shah said.

“We should move forward with our eyes open,” he warned.

Without naming Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Shah said that one political party was propagating that the country would fall into chaos if the election were not held earlier than their scheduled time.

Shah stressed that keeping in view new US policy on South Asia, Pakistan needs to carefully thread out next steps.

“The world will not forgive us if state institutions are threatened or weakened,” Shah said, asking all political parties to work together for democracy.

Vowing not to let anyone undermine the supremacy of parliament, Shah said: “We believe in the Constitution of Pakistan, and will never accept the ideology of India, Afghanistan or Britain.”

Shah vowed to prevent parliament from either becoming a ‘rubber-stamp’ or a ‘property of the establishment’.

Shah added that attempts to reduce the parliament to a rubber stamp for one individual’s decisions will be defeated by the opposition.

PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, while speaking to the media, said the NA speaker’s statements were being twisted.

He also said that blaming a ‘hidden hand’ for its troubles is a regular practice of the PML-N.

“If the assemblies have to be broken, the decision has to be taken by the prime minister,” he said.

Other members of the Lower House also expressed grave concerns over the dangers to Parliament coming directly from the custodian of the house. They demanded he inform the assembly of the dangers it was facing.

PML-N’s Capt (retd) Safdar also weighed in on the speaker’s statement, saying: “If a prime minister with a two-thirds majority could not complete his tenure, his team and the assemblies will obviously find themselves in trouble.”

“The burden of an attack on the assemblies always falls on the state,” he said. “We should learn from the fall of Dhaka.”

Meanwhile, veteran politician Javed Hashmi urged Sadiq not to lose hope.

“It is we who have to improve the situation. If we all stand up, the destination is not too far away; it is in sight,” he said, adding that holding the general elections in August 2018 would be a huge victory for Pakistan.


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