8 PML-N, 1 PPP MPA met Premier: PML-N Jaleel Sharaqpuri

A lawmaker from the opposition party admits that he and nine other Members of the Punjab Assembly (MPAs) met the prime minister to resolve the problems of their constituencies.

Mian Jaleel Ahmed Sharaqpuri, an MPA belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), told media that he had put in an individual request to meet the prime minister earlier in June. He was finally allotted a time on Saturday morning.

“When I reached Bani Gala, nine other MPAs of the PML-N were also present in the room. One was from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).” Majority of the lawmakers in attendance, he went on, were elected from Multan and other parts of South Punjab.

Besides politicians from rival parties, the prime minister, chief minister of Punjab, the governor of Punjab and Naeem-ul-Haque, a special assistant to the prime minister on political affairs, were present. Haque, adds Sharaqpuri, was tasked to note down the lawmakers’ grievances.

During the meeting, a person stood up. He was not an MPA, but was associated with a lawmaker from the PML-N. That man expressed his full confidence in the prime minister and his chief minister. “He went as far as to say, ‘We are with you Imran Khan sahib,’” an MPA told media, on the condition of anonymity, “but that was his personal opinion, not ours.”

Sharaqpuri agrees that majority of the men present in the meeting did not have any political agenda. Elected from Sheikhupura in Punjab, he joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2012 and then again in 2015, only to leave it for the PML-N before the 2018 ballot. “I have a very old association with the PTI. It is my right to meet the prime minister and have my constituencies’ problems resolved. If members of Mr. Khan’s party are creating problems for me, then who else should I take my complaints to?” he asked.

Rumours of the PML-N splitting in Punjab began after Haque tweeted that 15 MPAs of the PML-N met the prime minister at his residence for 1 hour on Saturday. “They expressed full confidence in the PM and CM,” he wrote.

Later, the PML-N leader, Rana Sanaullah, rubbished the news, but added that action could be taken against those who violated party rules. “After that statement, I tried to call Rana several times to clarify my stance,” Sharaqpuri adds. He says his call was received the next morning.

The PML-N lawmakers who media spoke to deny rumours of division and disillusionment within their party ranks. When asked why didn’t they take their grievances to the leader of the opposition in Punjab, and their party’s vice president, Hamza Shehbaz, first, one lawmaker said: “He has his own problems to deal with these days. I don’t think he would have been able to help us.”

Shehbaz was arrested in June in connection to a case of money laundering and for owning assets beyond his known source of income.