LAHORE – Realising that senior leader Javed Hashmi’s defection to the PTI is a serious loss, the PML-N leadership has decided to increase contacts with the party legislators and redress their grievances to prevent them from following in the footsteps of the party stalwart from Multan.

An extraordinary high-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Nawaz Sharif at Raiwind on Monday, assigned task to various leaders to ensure unity in the party ranks at this crucial juncture. The meeting intensely contemplated the situation emerging out of the senior leader’s joining the Imran Khan’s bandwagon, and worked out a strategy to check the flight of other party parliamentarians and leaders to the other side.

The meeting, also participated by PML-N ally Jamiat Ahle Hadith leader Prof Sajid Mir, took vital decisions after receiving input from top members as the party feels alarmed at the likelihood of more men’s switch over to the PTI, which has opened doors to the PML-N members to administer a dent to this party particularly in the urban constituencies of Punjab.

The sources said the meeting decided that from January 1, PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Ch Nisar Ali Khan and other senior leaders of the party will meet party members of the parliament, office bearers at different organisational levels and others to take them into confidence collectively, in groups and individually. They will also meet the annoyed and disgruntled leaders and senior workers of the party throughout the country to address their grievances and to also associate them in party organisational matters where it was yet to be done.

The meeting also decided to contact the PPP and the PML-Q splintered members and those disgruntled men sitting on the fence. Nawaz will himself hold meeting with the parliamentarians while Shahbaz Sharif and Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa were assigned the task to keep the party members in the Punjab Assembly satisfied by way of meeting and removing their grievances.

Sources say that a section of the participants of the meeting once again laid stress on quitting the parliament to record it as a concrete measure on the part of the party and taking a different line of action from the current trend. However, PML-N president advised the participants to act wisely at this juncture. Sources further say the unification of the Muslim League factions also came under discussion at the meeting, besides expediting the process of contacts with the masses, leaders and the office bearers.

Sources said the meeting also reviewed the arrangements for the Gujranwala public meeting of the PML-N on Dec 31, besides taking a decision to complete the organisational work of the party within next few days when the general council meeting will be convened in all the four provinces. The council will meet on Dec 28 in Peshawar, on Jan 2 in Karachi, on Jan 4 in Lahore and on Jan 6 in Quetta to elect the respective office bearers in all four provinces. To manage the organisational matters, Punjab has been divided into two, South and North parts, which will have separate office bearers. Sources said that Ch Jaffer Iqbal was elected coordinator to party chief to deal with the affairs of the new comers in the party.

Addressing the meeting Nawaz said that the PML-N will not let succeed the gruesome game being played against his party and its public mandate as well to undermine its popularity. He said now no one can befool the nation and reminded that a dictator (Pervez Musharraf) tried his best to scrape PML-N but he failed badly, adding the agenda of others playing their game now will also be frustrated. Nawaz said they would expose the hidden faces before the masses to let them know who they are. He said only PML-N has the programme and roadmap to save the country at this difficult time as only this party was capable of steering the country out of crises and ridding it of the corrupt rulers and put Pakistan on the road to prosperity.

Sources said that majority of the participants termed quitting of Hashmi a major loss to the party and expressed their dismay over his decision of joining the PTI. They pressed the need of fresh and speedy contacts with annoyed members of the party and to consolidate their stay in the party. The meeting also discussed threadbare the PTI public meeting and decided to upgrade the working momentum of the party by means of activating the PML-N youth wings in Punjab and other three provinces. Khwaja Saad Rafiq and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif were given this task.