Sunday, October 01, 2023

PML-N decides not to adopt anti-establishment narrative

PML-N leaders said that Pakistan's issues are so serious that confrontation with anyone is not solution and only way forward is through reconciliation

This is a screengrab of a video of an old meeting of the PML-N headed by the party supremo Nawaz Sharif in London.
This is a screengrab of a video of an old meeting of the PML-N headed by the party supremo Nawaz Sharif in London. 

LONDON: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership has decided in principle to craft its narrative around the economic revival of Pakistan and not flaunt the anti-establishment narrative to avoid creating an unnecessary diversion.

The key decision around this was taken at several meetings that took place in London. These meetings were attended by Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Ishaq Dar, Malik Ahmed Khan, Talal Chaudhary, Atta Tarar and others.

The PML-N’s narrative on Nawaz’s return to Pakistan in three weeks will be on the economy, governance and public issues and not on anything that reeks of revenge or confrontation with any institution, especially the military establishment. Senior PML-N leaders have said that the issues of Pakistan are so serious and challenging that confrontation with anyone is not the solution and the only way forward is to work through reconciliation and accommodation.

That doesn’t mean, said the sources, that the PML-N supremo or the party will compromise on naming and shaming their real culprits: General Faiz, General Bajwa, Saqib Nisar, Azmat Saeed Sheikh, Asif Saeed Khosa, Umar Atta Bandial, Ijazul Ahsan and Imran Khan. Nawaz and his colleagues remain of the firm view that people combined conspired and worked hands in gloves to bring the PTI into power in 2018. Nawaz and his colleagues, said the sources who were part of these meetings, will continue to blame these people for the current situation of chaos and for halting the economic journey of Pakistan.

Shehbaz Sharif spent almost a month in London after coming over in August and staying here till the middle of September. He left for Pakistan in the third week of September but had to dash to London within 48 hours to join Maryam who also reached London from Lahore to meet her father.

The nerves were caused within the PML-N ranks after the media focused on Nawaz’s recent statement in which he once again singled out General Bajwa, General Faiz and several Supreme Court judges for implementing the “project Imran Khan” and bringing Pakistan to an almost complete ruin. In that statement, Nawaz called for the accountability of all the characters who were involved in bringing PTI to power, after unfairly ousting him from power in 2017.

However, during the London meetings, the party discussed that if the focus was pinned on holding these individuals accountable then the whole attention would be diverted and a permanent situation of confrontation would not help PML-N in any way. The three-time premier and his colleagues, said the source, remain aggrieved that elements of the military establishment damaged Pakistan and rigged the 2018 elections to bring Imran Khan to power but they are also of the view that so much damage has been caused that only a roadmap for the future will bring optimism and hope and attention on the past grievances with a focus on revenge will create a spin around PML-N from which it will not come out unharmed.

There are only 2-3 hawks in the PML-N who believe that Nawaz’s focus should be on settling the scores with the establishment first and then doing anything else. An overwhelming majority within the PML-N is of the view that the PML-N should not get into any fights and should work with other institutions to bring changes to the lives of ordinary people and win elections and not go down the militant path of the PTI which has made the PTI popular but has damaged it, almost, beyond repair.

The PML-N supremo, according to the party insiders, has zero doubt in his beliefs that the establishment and the judiciary joined hands in 2017 to remove him from power at a time when he was going strong and looked set to win 2018 elections comfortably but was removed by the judges on Iqama in highly controversial circumstances. However, he has been advised by everyone around him to look to the future and not take any steps which could get his party into a fight with the powerful quarters, again. At this stage, Nawaz agrees with the majority opinion and has given the go-ahead to his trusted people to highlight the same in the media.

Maryam, according to sources, has been in the loop throughout and agrees that the PML-N should win the elections, come into power and deliver for the masses in order to stay relevant and intact.

Ahead of leaving for Pakistan, both Shehbaz and Dar set out the new party position.

The former premier Shehbaz said that Nawaz was a ray of hope for the nation, and it was based on his economic performance from 2013-2017 and during the previous tenures.

He said that inflation was low in Nawaz’s Pakistan, GDP growth was 6.5%, industries were flourishing, people had jobs and every segment of society was progressing but a “cruel joke was played with the nation when Nawaz was removed from power in 2017/2018 by the Supreme Court judges.

“Nawaz is coming back as the saviour and reformer,” he said.

The former finance minister was more blunt and open. He said that Nawaz has left his matter with Allah the Almighty to punish his tormentors and those who threw him out of power using illegal, vindictive and unethical means were already being held accountable in the court of public through natural justice.

Dar reminded that Nawaz had famously said in 2017 when he was disqualified over Iqama, that he left his matter to Allah with the prayers that those who meted out injustice to him should face punishment in this life and the life-after.

Dar said: “There are two choices: do revenge and personal scores settlement or fix the country and the economy. Nawaz has left his matter to Allah the Almighty. I have never seen in history that nature has exposed culprits in such a short time. Look how Judge Arshed Malik made his video confession of unfairly convicting Nawaz, how Justice Shaukat Siddiqui exposed injustice to Nawaz and informed the nation. This has happened in the fastest manner because Nawaz had left his matter with Allah and Allah is the best of judges.”