ISLAMABAD: PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday confirmed that he had resigned as the party’s senior vice president in an effort to give Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz an “open field”.
Addressing the matter during an appearance on Samaa News, Abbasi confirmed that he had sent his resignation to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif when Maryam was appointed, adding that he had expected the party to announce the development.
He said that the “basic principle” behind the move was that Maryam should be provided with an “open field” as she assumed the new responsibilities.
Giving the example of former premier Benazir Bhutto, Abbasi said that her first stint in power suffered due to conflicts with her father’s contemporaries. He said that during Benazir’s second term, there were “newer people” around which allowed her to move forward.
“That is why I think it appropriate that Maryam should get an open field and my being there was not appropriate for her or for me,” he said, adding that his presence as the senior vice president “would’ve been an obstacle “ for her.
Abbasi further said that he had not discussed the matter with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and had sent his resignation to PM Shehbaz, the party’s president. “Resignations are a normal matter so I don’t give them much importance.”
He also rebuffed a question about leaving the PML-N, saying: “No one leaves the party, it is a very big decision.”
Abbasi’s decision comes at a time when Maryam has commenced a country-wide election campaign after returning to Pakistan from her four-month sojourn in London.
In the past weeks, Abbasi has also been holding seminars and press conferences along with other like-minded leaders from across the political arena — including former finance minister Miftah Ismail, former senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisani — in a campaign they’ve termed “Reimagining Pakistan”.
Previously, while talking to Shahzeb Khanzada on Geo News, Abbasi had refuted reports that he was planning to quit the PML-N, saying he had also seen such reports on social media, which surged after the seminars.
Citing sources, The News claimed the former prime minister had resigned from the party earlier this month after Maryam Nawaz was appointed its new senior vice president and chief organiser by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who also serves as the party president.
In a tweet sent out after confirmation of her appointment, the prime minister said Nawaz possessed the “drive, determination and experience to lead the party’s organisational matters”.
“I have no doubts that she will very effectively galvanise our party’s rank and file with the vision of Nawaz Sharif,” he said.
In a separate report, Geo News said Abbasi’s decision to step down was driven by dissatisfaction with the appointment, which was made without consulting other party members.
Nawaz’s new role makes her the third most powerful figure in the party, after her father, Nawaz Sharif, and uncle, Shehbaz.
However, Nawaz’s promotion has not been well received by other senior leaders within PML-N. Some leaders have criticized the decision as undemocratic and aimed at furthering the Sharif political dynasty, according to anonymous sources.
Despite this, Nawaz’s appointment has placed her ahead of other prominent PML-N leaders, including Khawaja Asif, Tanvir Hussain, Ahsan Iqbal, and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. Abbasi has declined to give a statement to Geo News regarding his resignation.