ISLAMABAD: Veteran politician Javed Hashmi has vowed to “fight for democracy” jointly with ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif after a meeting between the two here on Monday.
Hashmi called on Nawaz at Punjab House after the latter appeared before an accountability court hearing graft references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and other senior PML-N leaders were also present during the meeting.
“Welcome back home,” Maryam said to Hashmi before the meeting formally started.
Sources said that Hashmi had agreed to rejoin the PML-N.
However, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique told reporters that Hashmi’s rejoining of the party will be announced after the next phase of discussions.
According to sources, Rafique was on the forefront in convincing his leadership to bring the old guard back into the PML-N fold.
“Rafique was the one who was very close to Hashmi when the latter chose to part ways with the Sharifs for not acknowledging his political struggle during the Musharraf era. Rafique also stayed in contact with Hashmi even during his two-and-a-half-year stay in the PTI,” he said, adding that Rafique told the leadership about Hashmi’s importance in the current political scenario as the PML-N “is in dire need of true democrats like him”.
But, sources said that some PML-N leaders from Multan, including the city mayor, are against Hashmi’s comeback because it might affect their political clout in the area.
Hashmi, a former PML-N leader, had grievances with the party, which contributed to his decision to part ways with the PML-N and join Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 2011, citing ideological similarities with the PTI. He stayed in Khan’s party for about two and a half years, but parted ways with Khan after developing serious differences with him over the party’s sit-in in Islamabad’s D-Chowk in 2014.
The politician from south Punjab is known for his steadfast opposition to military rule.
Friction between Hashmi and the Sharifs began when the former ignored Nawaz Sharif’s advice to retain his National Assembly seat from Rawalpindi after the Feb 2008 elections, and instead decided to retain the seat he had won in his native Multan. Ironically, Hashmi’s reputation as a bold man acted against him as the PML-N leadership baulked at his nomination for Leader of Opposition in National Assembly, fearing that it might not be helpful in rebuilding its relations with the military establishment.
The political stalwart has, even in recent times, stuck to his guns, calling for greater accountability for the army and judiciary.