According to Dawn, Nawaz Sharif will be presiding over an ’emergency meeting’ of PML-N’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) today. The decision to hold the meeting comes after an accountability court in Lahore remanded PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif in 10-day custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for an investigation into the Rs14 billion Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project scam. e
This time includes his time in jail. Earlier the resumption of political activities was stalled owing to the Sharifs’ mourning the death of Kulsoom Nawaz. However, the sudden arrest of Shahbaz Sharif has created the urgency of this formal meeting, which aims to strategize in terms of the course of action for the party in the coming days. PML-N stalwart and ex-information minister, Maryam Aurangzeb, speaking to Dawn News revealed that PML-N plans to raise the issue of Shahbaz’s opportunistically timed arrest real soon by protesting outside the parliament. A requisition notice to the National Assembly Secretariat for the impending protest has also been submitted. She lamented that the arrest is all a part of PTI’s policy of victimizing the opposition mere weeks before the by-elections – a theme all too similar to Nawaz’s arrest before the General Elections.
Chairman PPP, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that while he has no issues with the course of accountability he is worried about the law being followed. Shahbaz’s arrest to him feels like an improper conduct of the law and to that end, he would potentially support PML-N in getting the facts out. The two parties have reportedly also agreed to field joint candidates in the Oct 14 by-elections.
Shahbaz’s arrest in the manner it was conducted does seem rather timely in favour of the current government. PTI has to maintain a control in Punjab and the only way to do is to consistently suppress the potential rise of PML-N, which has a generational stronghold in the region. With the political trope of sympathy votes seemingly in favour of PML-N, it comes as no surprise that PML-N is being held back the way it is. Accountability like PPP posits is crucial, but the political narratives of opportunism cannot really be ignored either.
Whatever the findings of this meeting are and whether Shahbaz Sharif is actually guilty, remains to be seen. However, it will be quite interesting to see how PTI and its Insafians react to a disqualified politician holding a meeting this way. After all, they failed to react against Jahangir Tareen holding political meetings after the decision of his disqualification was confirmed.