Minister’s outburst confirms growing dissent against Sharif

  • Riaz Hussain Pirzada opens salvo against Nawaz, urges Shehbaz to take over party
  • Criticises the idea of forming early caretaker setup in country

ISLAMABAD: In what could be described as a mutiny against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada on Thursday urged Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to stage a rebellion against his older brother and take over the reins of the ruling party.

Cracks have widened in the House of Sharif, as Hamza Shehbaz and Maryam Nawaz—two aspirants for replacing Nawaz—have been contacting PML-N lawmakers.

A well-placed source in the ruling party told Pakistan Today that Pirzada’s tirade was only the first outburst which would be followed by “a series of such revolts.”

“The tirade against Nawaz Sharif is the result of inside bickering in the ruling family. Hamza Shehbaz has started holding direct meetings with the lawmakers of the ruling party, asking them to openly support Shehbaz. More such outbursts are likely in next few days and weeks,” the source added.

The source revealed that Hamza Shehbaz was contacting the party lawmakers following a difficult meeting between his father Shehbaz and cousin Maryam Nawaz—the heir apparent of Nawaz Sharif.

Meanwhile, another source in the PML-N said that Maryam also led a meeting of her close aides at the residence of Chaudhry Munir in the federal capital, where she has been living since her return from London.

“Some very close aides of Maryam attended the meeting, including Daniyal Aziz, Talal Chaudhry, Marriyum Aurangzeb and others. The meeting was so secretive that even Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair, another close aide to Maryam, was not allowed to join in. Zubair had to leave after he was barred from entering Chaudhry Munir’s residence,” the source added.

PIRZADA REMAINS DEFIANT:

Addressing a rare ‘Meet the Press’ here at the National Press Club, Pirzada criticised his own party chief, saying that there were corruption cases against Nawaz, which had brought the party to a standstill.

It is crucial to note here that Pirzada had taken up a list of around 37 Members of the Parliament, including six ministers, allegedly issued by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for their links with terrorist outfits. However, the IB and the prime minister had rejected the list terming it as ‘fake’.

Pirzada also criticised the idea of forming an early caretaker setup in the country and review of the constitutional role of the institutions. The minister lauded the role of journalist Arshad Sharif for “revealing the names of suspect lawmakers who have managed to get into the parliament”.

“I will side with PML-N if it provides justice to me. If the courts do so, then I will be thankful to them,” he added.

Pirzada added that since the election year had already arrived, and the party, as well as the federal government, was suffering due to corruption cases against the ruling family, Punjab CM should be made PML-N president, replacing Nawaz Sharif, who has been unable to lead the party due to corruption case and ailment of his wife Kulsoom Nawaz.

It is also important to highlight that on October 3, the PML-N general council had reelected Nawaz Sharif as party president following his disqualification from the apex court of the country in the Panama Papers case.

Earlier in the day, an accountability court had indicted the former PM Nawaz, his daughter Maryam, and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar in three corruption references filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Pirzada said, “It was important to replace Nawaz Sharif to save the PML-N,” adding there was no justice in the society and “only corruption” prevailed.

Referring to an alleged list provided by Prime Minister’s House to the IB asking to monitor the Members of the Parliament (MPs) for their alleged links to ‘terrorist outfits’, Pirzada said it was the ‘failure’ of the state institutions to scrutinise terrorists, who had managed to get elected to the National Assembly.

“When the parliamentarians have been declared terrorists, then what is wrong with the US accusations,” remarked the minister, arguing that if terrorists are in the parliament, the parliament house could be targeted by the US drone strike anytime.

Asked whether the IB’s report was fake, the minister mentioned he could not refute any report, and recalled how the governments of past have been overthrown on the allegations of corruption.

Pirzada also called for equal justice for all citizens in the country, urging the state’s institutions to deliver justice without discriminating between the rich and poor.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions.



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