LAHORE: PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s persistent efforts to convince his elder brother, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to reconsider his demand for holding former military officials accountable for their “unconstitutional actions” seem to have borne fruit.
A well-informed source within the party claims that the three-time former prime minister is now inclined towards adopting a more conciliatory stance. He intends to prioritize the country’s economic stability and uphold constitutional principles.
The source, on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the change of heart was purely an outcome of the discussion between the two Sharif brothers.
He added that the feedback from the party was also negative about Nawaz’s demand for the accountability of former army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and ex-director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed,
The PML-N source said it was thought that taking this narrative forward would put the party on a collision course with the establishment, as this institution had never accepted the accountability of its incumbent or former bosses.
Besides, it would raise questions about Shehbaz’s government enjoying a smooth working relationship with then army chief Gen (retd) Qamar. The PML-N source said Nawaz would focus on the economy, unemployment, inflation, and supremacy of vote.
He added that the talk of Gen (retd) Bajwa and Lt-Gen (retd) Hameed’s accountability would gradually recede into obscurity, adding that this narrative had been “neutralised”.
He claimed that there was an understanding that in case the PML-N returned to power, Nawaz would opt for the Centre with Shehbaz returning to Punjab like before.
The PML-N source denied the impression that Shehbaz had rushed to London at the behest of Rawalpindi—a metonym for the establishment. He continued that the change in stance had nothing to do with the statements given by the caretaker government.
A party leader said according to his observation, other than Shehbaz, a soft warning from the interim set-up of a possible arrest on his return to the country might have persuaded Nawaz to alter his future course of action. Nawaz is scheduled to return to the country on October 21.
He added that the statements from the caretaker set-up on its own had no real impact or meaning but knowing the powerful “puppeteers” behind it, this could not have been seen as an “idle” threat.
The PML-N leader said he personally did not have any interaction with the leadership in London but his understanding after his conversation with those who had met Nawaz was that the party would stay clear of this quagmire.
PML-N leader Javed Latif, when asked about the decision to abandon the demand for Gen (retd) Bajwa and Lt-Gen (retd) Hameed’s accountability, said those involved in hatching conspiracies should be held accountable by the institutions themselves.
He added without holding the powerful responsible, there was no way the nation could move ahead in the right direction.
When again asked if the PML-N was backing down from its demand of holding the ex-army chief and the former spymaster responsible for their “actions”, he reiterated that the institutions should employ a mechanism for self-accountability.
Latif, while answering a question about a possible shift in narrative, abstained from even mentioning the former army chief or the ex-ISI director general.
Another PML-N leader denied the impression that Nawaz would abandon his narrative of accountability. He said the party supremo firmly believed that without accountability, a fresh start was not possible.
However, he agreed that in the short-run, Shehbaz might have managed to convince his brother to remain quiet over the issue but that might change depending on the kind of reception he received on his return to the country.