London has become an important deliberation point for the PML-N to decide national and political issues in consultation with party supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif. Lately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif along with federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Khawaja Asif and Khurram Dastagir have reached London to meet Mian Nawaz Sharif. According to the PML-N, it is a private visit by party leaders to hold a “goodwill meeting” with the party founder.
Reportedly, the prevailing economic crisis in the wake of the ouster of the PTI government will come under discussion besides big decisions about power-sharing, the next general election, and the Punjab cabinet will also be taken during the meeting. Meetings among the party rank to discuss key issues are not a new thing but the PML-N’s London huddle has a different scenario altogether. The process of in-person consultation with Mian Nawaz Sharif has been on since 2019 when the Lahore High Court permitted him to leave for medical treatment for four weeks, however, he has remained in London ever since. Mian Nawaz Sharif is convicted in two corruption cases in Pakistan and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
It is suffice to say that the late meeting is aimed at sorting out current political issues back in Pakistan, where the PTI is up in arms to avenge its ouster. Nevertheless, meetings and consultations are good things but discussion of national issues and finding their solutions while sitting abroad is a cause of concern. It is against the stature of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to take his cabinet members to a foreign land for taking further directions from a person, who has been declared guilty and proclaimed an offender in his own country. It would have been better for the PML-N to first convince the party supremo to come to Pakistan and face the trial. Alternatively, the online meeting would have been a reasonable choice instead of putting a burden on the national exchequer by taking a coterie of Ministers to London just for holding a goodwill meeting with the party founder. Such acts give an opportunity to the PTI leadership to take the PML-N to task for going against the moral principles. On the other hand, the PML-N claims that Nawaz Sharif has been victimized in the corruption cases decided by the judiciary instigated under political vengeance. This attitude shows PML-N’s lack of trust in the justice system in the country.
The PML-N leadership needs to adopt a clear policy regarding its affiliation with Mian Nawaz Sharif. If it cannot distance itself from the former prime minister, it needs to fight his case in court and prove his innocence. Till that time, any consultation with the former premier, who has been declared absconded by the court, is tantamount to an assumption that Pakistan’s justice system has flaws in awarding punishment to persons accused of corruption. Therefore, key decisions on national issues by the chief executive need to be taken at home and not abroad as well as not in consultation with a person, who is wanted by law in Pakistan.