LAHORE - A central leader of the PML-N says the recent defections from his party are the result of confrontation between the supporters and enemies of democracy who are doing their respective duties.

“People know who is behind the defections,” said Senator Mushahidullah Khan, the ruling party’s central information secretary, without naming anyone but leaving no doubt who he was referring to.

“People know all. They are with the oppressed, not the oppressor,” he said while talking to The Nation.

More than half a dozen legislators from South Punjab recently parted ways with the PML-N after staying with it for almost the complete term of the assemblies. They are now meeting with various parties to decide their future course of action. A PTI delegation led by Shah Mehmood Qureshi visited the deserters’ office on Sunday to discuss the possibility of the two sides joining hands before the next election.

Those who left the PML-N have also held meetings with the PML-Q leadership and Pir Pagara of Sindh, who is trying to persuade strong political figures to join the Grand National Alliance.

Asked how the leadership would be able to keep the party united in the changed political situation, Mr Mushahidullah Khan said that before election people changed their loyalties for better future prospects. If legislators from South Punjab left the PML-N there were also others who joined the party, he argued.

He was of the view that voters were with the PML-N and anybody parting ways with this party would certainly be a loser. Only those standing by Mr Sharif would win the 2018 election, he emphasised.

Q: How would it be possible for new party president Mian Shehbaz Sharif to stress the need for cooperation between the state institutions and at the same time carry forward the narrative of Mian Nawaz Sharif who appears to be at war with them?

A: It is not Nawaz Sharif who is involved in confrontation with the institutions. It is the others who are taking steps against democratic forces. Nobody should forget that Mian Shehbaz Sharif has been talking of cooperation among the state institutions for the past 20 years. And then he also stands by his elder brother. The Punjab chief minister regards Mian Nawaz Sharif as his leader and follows his decisions.

The narrative of the former prime minister will prevail.

Asked how he would explain the ideology that the PML-N leaders and supporters say Mian Nawaz Sharif is embodiment of, Mr Mushahidullah Khan said the former premier himself was not the ideology but it was his views.

The former prime minister, he said, wanted the vote to be respected, which meant respecting democracy, parliament and the Constitution.

Nawaz Sharif, he said, wanted all state institutions work in their respective jurisdictions.