ISLAMABAD: A secret meeting of three senior PML-N leaders with Shahbaz Sharif on the “request” of a senior representative of the establishment has “upset” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, according to a report published in The News on Friday.
The publication, citing informed sources, said that Nawaz was unhappy because he was told that top party leaders Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Rana Tanvir Hussain met Shahbaz while he was in the custody National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the “request of a senior representative of the establishment”.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Advisor on Accountability and Interior, Barrister Shahzad Akbar had also revealed in a recent press briefing that the PML-N president is holding secret meetings in jail.
When contacted by The News, Ahsan Iqbal claimed that they had met their party president after duly informing Nawaz Sharif and denied reports that Nawaz Sharif was angry with them.
While denying that the establishment arranged their meeting, Iqbal said they had only requested NAB for the meeting.
‘Nawaz denied meeting’
The PML-N sources, however, said that their party delegation had a message for Shahbaz Sharif.
“Before this contact, an effort was made to contact Nawaz Sharif but he refused to entertain those knocking at his door carrying a message from the establishment,” the report said.
Meanwhile, sources within the establishment, insist that the meeting of the three PML-N leaders with Shahbaz was facilitated after Suleman Shahbaz had approached the establishment with a request to arrange the meeting.
Shahzad Akbar, when contacted, told The News that the meeting of the three PML-N leaders with Shahbaz Sharif had upset the elder brother. Akbar, however, was reluctant to name the three PML-N leaders who met the PML-N president.
He said that according to his information, the three leaders had shared their concern about the “aggressive stance” adopted by Nawaz Sharif.
The special assistant reiterated that Nawaz Sharif was upset about the three PML-N leaders meeting Shahbaz. From that point on, Barrister Akbar said, Nawaz Sharif had decided to assume direct control of the party.
‘Bilawal changing focus towards PTI’
Sources spoke of more contacts between the establishment and the PML-N leaders of late, but Nawaz Sharif is not yet ready to soften his stance.
Unlike Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Maryam Nawaz, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), who do criticise the establishment but refrain from naming names, Nawaz has started accusing the persons that he believes were associated with electoral engineering and his corruption conviction.
His aggressive stance has upset many, including those in the government, in the establishment and even some within his own party.
In contrast to Nawaz Sharif’s stance, the PPP and its chairperson Bilawal Bhutto are now shifting the focus of their criticism from the establishment to Imran Khan’s government.