PML-N eyes early anti-govt drive


— PML-N leadership in touch with PPP to evolve joint strategy for Oct 17 NA session

— Nawaz, Maryam likely to rejoin mainstream politics after Kulsoom Nawaz’s chehlum next week


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is quietly scrambling efforts to win support from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to organise phase-wise protests against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on issues of public concern, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.

Sources in the PML-N have informed this scribe that the party has been in touch with the PPP leadership through former opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, who played a key role in convincing party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari to join forces with the PML-N.

They said that the PPP leadership was reluctant to support the idea of mass protests and hence the PML-N had been advised to only focus on protests inside the parliament.

The sources said that keeping in view the unpopular decisions by the PTI leadership — like price hike in petroleum products, rupee depreciation, stringent drive against encroachments and tax measures — the PML-N has been hoping for public support regarding the prospects of a large-scale agitation.

However, the sources said that the protests would be incremented phase by phase. The sources said that Nawaz Sharif has finalised a strategy under which various committees had been formed to contact people from different sectors and include them in the PML-N to expand base for the mass protests.

On the other hand, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has been tasked to establish contacts with the opposition parties to try and bring them on one platform to build a structured anti-government drive, sources said, adding that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been assigned to bring the PPP on the opposition’s platform as other parties, including Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP), Awami National Party (ANP), and others, were already on board with the PML-N.

“A major concern for Nawaz has been the PPP which has been reluctant to join forces with the PML-N. The PPP lawmakers had also stayed away from the public protest of opposition parties recently organised outside the parliament house. Hence, Maulana [Fazl] has been asked to play the role of bridging the two sides,” the sources said.


Sources within the PML-N claimed that under the strategy, the party’s media cell has already been activated to up the ante.

“The social media campaign is in full swing these days by the PML-N tigers and it would further be accelerated in the next few weeks. The upcoming National Assembly and Senate sessions would be used to up the ante on major public-related issues. The PTI government’s decision to seek loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be used as a fuel to ignite public anger further,” the sources said.

They added that the party had been told by the supremo to use any mishandling in the upcoming by-elections to raise further questions over the federal and provincial governments.

“Rigging would be another key tool to create an enabling environment for the anti-government protests. We have formed special teams to organise protests wherever we feel the public mandate is being threatened,” the sources said.


When asked why Nawaz was tight-lipped, the sources said that he and his daughter Maryam Nawaz would join the mainstream politics once the final mourning session of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz is held.

“The chehlum for late Begum Sahiba would be held in a week’s time, bringing an end to the mourning period. So, things would start happening afterwards,” the sources said.

The sources said that the PML-N was also planning to submit another application with the National Assembly speaker to issue production orders for Shehbaz ON October 16 so as the PML-N president can attend the joint opposition parliamentary meeting a day before the NA session.

PML-N Senator Raja Zafarul Haq said that the PML-N had contacted the PPP to submit another request to the speaker for producing Shehbaz for the joint opposition meeting.

“We are in touch with the PPP and their response is in affirmative,” he said. When asked on which points the PPP had agreed to support the PML-N, Haq said that talks were underway and things would be shared once concluded.


Sources in the PPP, however, said that the party leadership was convinced only to lend support to the joint opposition on the public issues.

“We would extend issue-based support to the PML-N and its allies. We believe that it would be too early to even think of an anti-government agitation and rather believe that the new government should be given apt time to deliver the goods. The people have voted the PTI into government and dislodging them within the first few months is a bad idea,” a senior PPP leader said, citing not being mentioned.

The source said that the PPP was convinced that any move to dislodge the government would be immature and may destabilise the democratic system.

“We are not going to support any move to save any specific politician from the court cases. However, if we think that the government is involved in witch hunt, we will raise voice,” the PPP leader asserted.

When asked whether the PPP leadership would mull over any public agitation, the PPP leader said that the party has considered the parliament as the centre to express any difference of opinion and grievance.

“We will only support the PML-N to protest inside the parliament, for the time being. We may think of joining hands with the opposition if it is imperative to save the country and the system,” the source added.

When contacted, PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the PPP had supported the demand of the PML-N to bring the opposition leader to the NA session.

“We had signed the requisition regarding the issue of production orders for Shehbaz in the upcoming NA session. We stand by the PML-N on their demand to produce Shehbaz on October 17. We also have an election adjustment with the PML-N in the upcoming elections. However, it is too early to comment on the possibility of PPP’s participation in any anti-government street protests,” the PPP leader concluded.