The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has stressed on the need for an “in-house” change of government before holding fresh elections as party bigwigs met in London.
A group of PML-N leaders, who arrived in London a couple of days ago, held a consultative session presided over by party president Shehbaz Sharif to weigh their options over the legislation to extend the army chief’s tenure and discuss the political situation in the country.
They also discussed the delay in the appointment of the chief election commissioner and two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The party leaders present at the meeting included Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Khurram Dastagir, Pervaiz Rasheed, Rana Tanveer, Amir Muqam, Ayaz Sadiq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
After the meeting, the PML-N leaders visited the party’s ailing supreme leader, former prime minister Sharif, at the Avenfield apartments to inquire after his health.
Speaking to the media, Khawaja Asif said that if fresh elections were to take place, it is necessary to first have an in-house change – removing Prime Minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence move – instead of dissolving the assemblies.
“[This is] not for the sake of perpetuating the change but for the sake of holding new elections,” he added.
Asif further said the PML-N leaders had informed the party president about the recent developments taking place both inside and outside parliament, and sought his guidance on these matters. “We will chalk out the party’s policy on these issues when we return to Pakistan.”
To a query about the legislation on the extension of the army chief’s tenure, the PML-N leader said he could not comment about it until the court issued its detailed judgment on the matter.
On the PML-N leaders’ meeting with former prime minister Sharif, Asif said that the party supremo’s personal physician had briefed them about his health.
Iqbal told reporters after the meeting that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s “blunders” in the matter of the army chief’s extension were an embarrassment for the entire nation.
He also maintained that the opposition had nothing to do with the talk of a minus-one agenda – replacing Prime Minister Khan – and that it originated within the PTI.
PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari said that the party would start consultations with other parties from next week for an in-house change.
“The party’s prime goal is that fresh elections are held at the earliest and an in-house change is the only way to achieve it,” she added.
Shehbaz Sharif had recently backed the idea of an in-house change, saying that it is the constitutional and legal way forward.
He said that Prime Minister Khan had become a “burden” for the country, and that the nation needed to be rid of him as soon as possible.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also backed the call for an in-house change.
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