PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, who returned from London on Sunday, has decided to summon a consultative meeting of senior party leaders and office-bearers at his Raiwind residence in a couple of days —- probably on Tuesday —- to discuss a host of important issues, including the plan for the “grand opposition conference”.
According to the sources, the PML-N leadership is expected to take some important decisions regarding the party’s strategy on issues like the ongoing judicial probe into the memo controversy, the 20th constitution amendment bill tabled in the National Assembly, forthcoming joint session of parliament and Senate elections.
When contacted, PML-N’s Deputy Secretary Generalsaid his party would convene the conference but only after knowing the viewpoint of opposition leaders who had met Mr Sharif and sought time to consult their party colleagues before taking a decision about future cooperation.
Earlier this month, Mr Sharif met Qazi Hussain Ahmed of Jamaat-i-Islami, Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F, Aftab Sherpao of the PPP-S and Mehmood Khan Achakzai of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and there was a consensus amongst them that early elections were the only solution to the problems being faced by the country.
Mr Iqbal said the three issues that had come under discussion with the opposition leaders were a strategy to force the government to hold early elections, appointment of a neutral caretaker set-up and the steps to make the election commission independent and powerful.
Responding to a question, he said the PML-N was ready to talk to all parties, including the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, on the said issues, but it appeared that Mr Khan was not willing to talk to his party.
The sources said the senior PML-N leadership in their meeting would also take a decision about awarding party tickets for the Senate elections.
They said the party would also devise a strategy for the planned joint session of parliament to discuss the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security on the terms and conditions for re-engagement with the US in the war on terror.
Moreover, the PML-N leaders will decide about the steps to counter the government’s move of giving legal cover to the by-elections held under an incomplete election commission, currently under scrutiny by the Supreme Court.
The government has already tabled the 20th Constitution Amendment in the National Assembly for this purpose and Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has announced that the PML-N would not support it.
The sources said the PML-N leadership was upset over a delay in judicial probe into the memo case amid speculations that the civil and military leaderships had reached some kind of understanding on the issue after which both sides had started using delaying tactics before the judicial commission. Political analysts believe that detraction of his statements about the role of army in the memo case by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last week clearly shows that the matters between the two sides have been settled.
Advocate Akram Sheikh, who is representing Mansoor Ijaz, the central character in the memo case, told a TV channel last week that he was “disappointed” to see that Mr Sharif was “not taking due interest in the memo case” because his counsel was yet to provide a list of witnesses.
The PML-N, the sources said, would also finalise arrangements for the energy conference being convened by it on Feb 20.