Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has said that he does not seek confrontation with anyone and believes in reconciliation.
In a conversation with senior journalists, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) president said: “Confrontation will not benefit anyone. It is my belief that the country can only move forward with consultation and reconciliation.”
He said that he has been “in touch with the army as an institution for 25 years now”.
Shehbaz Sharif went on to say that despite his viewpoint, he “never sought any benefit from reconciliation”.
According to local media reports, trusted sources said that PML-N stalwart Khawaja Saad Rafique was also present in the meeting and said that if resistance as a strategy is adopted by the opposition, the only one to benefit would be Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government, claiming that the government seeks to have the opposition “fight with state institutions”.
When Shehbaz Sharif was asked how the government could have such an aim when it was PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif himself who spoke out against the institutions, the party president rejected the notion and said that Nawaz had only spoken in favour of the Constitution and the law.
“Nawaz Sharif provided recommendations for the future of Pakistan. They must be taken into consideration.”
Referring to reports that Nawaz Sharif had prohibited party members from meeting military leadership and, if it is absolutely necessary, then only with express approval from him, Shehbaz Sharif clarified that Nawaz had simply said that there is no harm in informing him if such a meeting is planned.
Shehbaz reiterated that his politics is one of reconciliation, adding however that the decisions made during the multi-party conference still stand.
The PML-N leader said that both his party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are ready to resign from the assemblies should the time come for such a move to be necessary.
Shehbaz also spoke of the opposition’s demand for re-elections, saying that all parties agree that there should be fresh, transparent polls.
He also said that no new elections must take place until the demand for “no interference” in the exercise is fulfilled.
Responding to a question on why the party thinks the prime minister seeks Shehbaz’s arrest, Rafique said that the premier “fears Shehbaz Sharif’s performance”.
Prime Minister Khan has rejected the opposition’s demand for re-elections and instead said that he is ready to hold by-elections for seats that have fallen vacant.
The premier said the opposition would fail to secure even one seat when this takes place.
The PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah was invited to speak on Shahzad Iqbal’s show, and when asked whether Shehbaz Sharif’s statements yesterday was aimed at removing any bitterness that may have arisen between the opposition and the state institutions, Sanaullah remarked: “What bitterness?”
Sanaullah said that Nawaz Sharif’s address to the multi-party conference “made no mention of anything that everyone does not already agree on”.
He said that Nawaz only spoke of the reasons “why Pakistan could not reach the heights it should have in the last 70 years”.
Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry, also invited to participate in Shahzad Iqbal’s show, said that he would welcome any change within the PML-N’s stance, including “letting go” of their “hawkish” policies.
He went on to say that the party, as an entity, “must distance itself from the Sharifs”.
Chaudhry said that “owing to their sentiments being hurt” by Nawaz’s speech, the party must “seriously consider” emerging as “a new party”.
“The PML-N is no doubt a loyal party that loves the country and will surely take that route now.”
On the show host’s inquiry of claims long been made by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members that the PML-N will soon “branch off”, Chaudhry said that the government does not seek the defection of opposition members, and had instead called for an open vote in the upcoming Senate elections.
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