Sunday Jan 12, 2020
LONDON: Pakistan’s Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif is unhappy with some of his party members for breaking terms of the oath taken at the Avenfield apartments a month ago over the issue of Army Act, it is understood.
Three senior sources, who were present at the meeting, confirmed to this correspondent that oath on the Holy Quran was administered at the meeting on December 8, 2019.
Shehbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Rana Tanveer, Ayaz Sadiq, Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rasheed, Amir Muqam, Khurram Dastagir Khan and Ishaq Dar were present in the meeting with Nawaz. All of them had arrived at the Avenfield flats after holding a formal party meeting over lunch at the Maroush Gardens Restaurant on Edgware Road where Shehbaz and others had discussed the issue of army chief’s extension and it was generally agreed that the PML-N would support the extension issue as a matter of principle. They met Nawaz for about 90 minutes, where Hussain Nawaz was also around during the meeting.
The participants of this meeting agreed that they would not speak about anything outside on whatever was discussed in the meeting.
Geo reporter and Jang columnist Azaz Syed in his weekly column had mentioned, about oath on the Holy Quran during the meeting held in London. Since then, Asif, Dastagir and Tanvir confirmed having taken oath at the London meeting.
Sources in Pakistan and London confirmed that at least two parliamentarians, after reaching Pakistan from London, transgressed the terms of oath or violated the agreement while one albeit publicly confirmed having taken oath declined to share details.
Ironically, said the sources, the two members did not respect the terms of oath and violated the terms agreed during the meeting that this issue will never be discussed outside of this room.
“It’s true that the unanimous support on the issue of army chief’s extension was agreed and it was at the top of the agenda in the meeting. That’s a public fact and known but there were other sensitive issues discussed too and agreed upon. Clearly the two members didn’t wait for long to either go public or privately brief media and others over what was discussed,” one source said.
Nawaz neither mentioned nor suggested to take oath but “certain participants” insisted that oath should be taken on the Holy Book of Quran, said one source who was present during the Avenfield meeting throughout.
Nawaz clearly showed his reluctance over the suggestion but the members persisted, the sources confirmed.
Hence an oath was administered in an unconventional manner without the participants holding or laying their hands on a copy of the Quran although there was a copy of the Holy Quran in the room, according to those who were present in the meeting.
One source, who refused to share the proceedings of the meeting for being under oath, was questioned if the public statements made by some participants were in accordance with the proceedings. He said here was a large difference between what was agreed and what was eventually stated. “It was an exaggeration, rather an abuse,” he said.
It is understood that a source from Pakistan brought a special message for Nawaz from the powerful quarters which was shared with a few senior stalwarts in confidence.
The sources refused to share details stating that they were under oath but at least two sources feared that the contents of the meeting would come out soon as participants have already broken the terms of their oath.
PML-N President Shehbaz had said that PML-N had unanimously decided to support the extension of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
PML-N’s decision had endorsement of Nawaz, the former prime minister of Pakistan. Sources also said that Nawaz due to ill health was seen as a man of reduced physical and mental stamina which might as well have been the cause of his acquiescence to a few recent decisions taken by the party.
It was agreed at the meeting that General Bajwa’s extension will be supported without any conditions and that PML-N will not play any kind of politics over the issue of army chief’s extension.
Separately, a source shared on Saturday that the former prime minister had shared his annoyance over the critical remarks passed by a few senior leaders of the party for the party’s supporters on social media who have heavily criticized the party leadership for not taking them into confidence over the extension issue.
The source said that Nawaz had conveyed his message that the party’s activists were right in criticizing their leadership and they should not be silenced or disrespected for voicing criticism.