PML-N to meet Fazl before finalising Azadi March programme


LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday announced that the party will share contents of the letter written by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman before finalising the programme for the latter’s anti-government ‘Azadi March’.

Addressing reporters after a meeting of the PML-N leadership chaired by Shehbaz Sharif, senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said that Shehbaz had during the meeting read out contents of the letter written to him by party supremo Nawaz. He said in the letter, Nawaz had detailed a “complete roadmap” for the PML-N and expressed the desire that the party take the JUI-F chief into confidence in this regard.

“For this purpose, a senior delegation of the party will immediately take Nawaz Sharif’s letter to Maulana Fazl so that we can give a final shape to the programme of Azadi March,” Iqbal said.

He said Nawaz had agreed with the objectives of the so-called Azadi March and stressed the “important” role to be played by the PML-N in the face of a “sinking economy” for which he held the government responsible.

“Our Kashmiri brothers are becoming the targets of bullets of the Indian Army and our prime minister is heading to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” the PML-N leader said, criticising the Imran Khan-led government’s efforts to highlight the plight of the people of occupied Kashmir.

He said Nawaz had directed the party to “initiate a comprehensive movement so that we can get rid of this government”.

The instructions given for that movement by the former premier were corroborated by the party leadership during today’s meeting, Iqbal added.

He rejected the impression that there are any differences among the party leadership. “There is no division of any sort in the PML-N,” he iterated, adding that the entire party had confidence in Nawaz Sharif’s leadership.

On Friday, Incarcerated former PM Nawaz Sharif threw his weight behind the JUI-F’s ‘Azadi March’, saying that he “fully supports” it.

“Our viewpoint is the same as Maulana’s [Fazlur Rehman’s] viewpoint, ” said Nawaz while speaking to reporters at a Lahore accountability court. He was accompanied by his son-in-law Capt (r) Mohammad Safdar.

A day earlier, Capt Safdar had disclosed that the party supremo’s message to the workers was “they must participate” in Fazl’s protest. “Those who love the country will join the march,” he had quoted Nawaz as saying.

Nawaz recalled that Rehman had called for resignations and protest after the 2018 general elections, in which the PTI came to power. “We had convinced him not to take that course but I feel [now] that his argument was solid.”

“Not paying heed to Maulana’s call for the march would be a mistake,” he added.

Nawaz said that he has already written a letter to his brother Shehbaz Sharif in this regard, detailing the future course of action of the party, and expressed hope that the PML-N president would brief the media on it.

Earlier on Thursday, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif skipped “an all-important meeting” with the former prime minister in jail, fuelling speculation the two brothers had developed differences over the issue of joining the JUI-F’s march on Oct 31.

Shehbaz did not go to Kot Lakhpat jail to meet his elder brother despite the party’s announcement that the former would present suggestions of its senior leaders to the latter regarding joining the JUI-F protest. The former Punjab chief minister was to announce Nawaz’s decision on the matter after the meeting.

A backache was cited as the reason for Shehbaz’s failure to meet his elder brother.

Sources believe that since Shehbaz is not in favour of joining the march, he “postponed” his meeting with Nawaz as he wanted to present “strong arguments” against the proposal to his brother later.

However, a television channel quoted Shehbaz on Thursday night as saying he could have different views on some issues but his elder brother’s decision was final and the party would follow it.