LAHORE - The PML-N is finally going to make a decision soon about its participation or else in the planned Azadi March of the JUI-F with majority of party men opposed to the move for its likely outcome.

A formal announcement in this regard is most likely to be made today (Thursday) by party president Mian Shehbaz Sharif after his scheduled meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif at Kot Lakhpat jail the same day.

Sources privy to party’s Wednesday meeting told The Nation that majority view in the party was that PML-N should not ride on the JUI-F’s bandwagon since Maulana had made a unilateral decision to announce a date ignoring calls from the opposition parties to use the platform of All Parties Conference (APC). Those opposed to siding with the JUI-F on the issue also argued that Maulana also did not pay heed to PML-N’s suggestion to defer the march for a month to enable the party mobilise its workers.

Party sources disclosed that only a few party men voted in favour of the long march. They had the argument that a strong momentum against the government had been built; and the PML-N being the main opposition party could not afford to remain aloof from a mega event. They also argued that party leadership should gauge the sentiments of party workers and the public at large that was fed up with the incumbent government for unprecedented price hike and unemployment. Also, they were of the view that Maulana himself was not clear about the mode of protest and its duration. Party men supporting this view also raised the question: What if the planned sit-in fails to achieve the desired objectives?

Majority of party men oppose riding on JUI-F’s bandwagon

Sources said that Mian Shehbaz Sharif in his planned meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif on Thursday (today) would present both the points of view to seek his advice. Nawaz Sharif’s decision will be final and everyone in the party will have to accept it, said the sources who were confident that he (Nawaz Sharif) was less likely to change his earlier decision on the issue. They, however, said that it will also be a very difficult decision for the PML-N to ignore the view point of majority of party leaders.

“The PML-N is most likely to join the JUI-F’s planned long march on Islamabad despite a strong opposition to the move from within the party,” a party source considered very close to Mian Nawaz confided to The Nation.

They believed that there was only a remote possibility of the PML-N not becoming part of the anti-government protest just in case Mian Nawaz Sharif changes his earlier decision to support the long march.

Meanwhile, briefing the media after the meeting, PML-N’s Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said that following announcement of date for the Azadi March by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, his party had prepared recommendations for the party Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif. Shehbaz Sharif will present these recommendations before Mian Nawaz Sharif and the latter will make a final decision in this regard, he added. “The media will be informed of the decision accordingly,” he said.

Ahsan advised the federal ministers to see the video clips of their leader Imran Khan about the 2014 sit-in instead of issuing provocative statements against the Opposition.

He said Pakistan had gained more points in the corruption index in the past one year. Citing a recent survey, Ahsan said that 80 percent of country’s population was dissatisfied with the current situation.

He said Khan was the only prime minister seeking foreign investment by telling the alleged tales of corruption in his country. “Even the heads of governments of corrupt countries don’t defame their country during their foreign visits,” he said.

The PML-N leader called Imran Khan a sick-minded person whose thinking was confined only to political victimization of his political opponents. “The footage of Safe City Authority had exposed government’s lies in Rana Sanaullah’s case. Even Musharraf’s rule did not see politicians being involved in narcotics’ cases,” he averred. He said the government had not been able so far to file any reference against any PML-N leader in any case.  He said the PML-N had been a victim of Imran Khan’s political vengeance but he won’t be able to weaken their leadership’s resolve.