–Three-member PML-N committee constituted to submit report on matter in two weeks
–PML-N leader says Mashhood will be given opportunity to present clarification
–Mashhood maintains innocence, says his words were taken out of context
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Wednesday issued a show cause notice to senior party leader Rana Mashhood and suspended his party membership after his controversial statements on Tuesday night regarding a “deal” with the military establishment left his party red-faced.
Meanwhile, Mashhood has backtracked on his statement, saying that his TV interview was taken out of context.
In a contentious statement, Mashhood had insinuated that the military establishment had played a role in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) rise to power, and it had now realised that the PTI leaders were not capable of delivering what had been expected of them. He also hinted that his party would be able to “form a government in Punjab after the by-elections”.
Reacting to Mashhood’s remarks, the Pakistani military’s chief spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor had condemned the PML-N leader’s claim of forming a government in Punjab in the next two months as the result of a “deal” between the party and the establishment as “baseless and regrettable”.
PML-N Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed that party president Shehbaz Sharif has suspended Mashhood’s membership after his controversial statement.
The spokesperson also informed that a three-member committee comprising Raja Zafarul Haq, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Rana Tanveer has been constituted to probe the matter. The committee is expected to submit a report in two weeks.
Mashhood’s fate will be decided based on the findings of the probing body, she added.
Meanwhile, addressing a joint press conference with Mashhood, PML-N leader Malik Ahmad Khan declared that his party had issued Mashhood a show-cause notice for his earlier comments and he will be liable to present a clarification of his statements soon.
Mashhood said that the party always respected state institutions, reiterating that he did not mention any ‘deal’ in the news show and remained adamant that his words were misinterpreted and twisted.
“In that entire interview, if the word ‘deal’ has been used then let me know,” he said.
The PML-N leader had clarified his statement on Tuesday as well soon after the controversy stirred over it.
Speaking to media personnel outside the Punjab Assembly, he clarified: “I am a political worker who believes in democracy.”
“Whenever I speak of the establishment, it does not mean I am referring to the army,” Mashhood stated.
Criticising the information minister, Mashhood said, “Fawad Chaudhry in a statement two days ago said the judiciary and army are standing behind them.”
“The army is Pakistan’s and we all have a right on it,” he added.
Further, the PML-N leader asserted, “My interview was taken out of context and there was no mention of the word deal. We have never made a deal nor will allow anyone to do so. We have always spoken about upholding the law and have never looked for backdoors.”
“I have said, again and again, this was my own viewpoint,” Mashhood added.
“I did say this though that those who were considered horses, turned out to be mules,” he said, in an apparent criticism of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
SHEHBAZ SLAMS REPORTER FOR ASKING ‘SENSELESS’ QUESTION:
Commenting on the issue, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said the party had clarified its stance on the issue.
Talking to media outside the accountability court after the hearing of a corruption reference against his brother Nawaz Sharif earlier on Wednesday, Shehbaz said: “Mashhood issued an irresponsible statement and I will issue a show-cause notice to him,” he said, adding that party has nothing to do with Mashhood’s statement.
Shehbaz was annoyed with reporters when asked whether “a deal had been made”. Irked at the question, the PML-N president responded, “Please say something which makes sense.”
Earlier in the day, when reporters asked the same question from PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, he rebuked them and said that Shehbaz has already taken notice of the matter.
However, when asked if Mashhood’s statement was party policy or not, Nawaz said, “You know better than me.”
Moreover, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz also denied the party’s affiliation with statements issued by Mashhood, saying the party was not contemplating forming a government in Punjab.
Following Mashhood’s claim on Tuesday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had asked the media to avoid giving unnecessary hype to the PML-N leader’s statement because he had no standing to make such a claim.
Separately, Punjab Minister for Information Fayyazul Hassan Chohan claimed that Mashhood was trying to defame the establishment on Shehbaz’s directives. He further said that the PML-N leader is trying to make the election controversial, adding that the people had delegated power to Prime Minister Imran Khan through their votes.