Sharif brothers’ extended stay in UK raises concerns among Pakistani N-Leaguers


Nawaz Sharif

LONDON: A number of members of Pakistan’s N-League party are expressing concerns over the prolonged presence of the party’s top leadership in London, citing potential negative optics.

Shehbaz Sharif arrived in London shortly after the caretaker government assumed office, while the elder Sharif and influential decision-maker in the party, Nawaz Sharif, has been residing in the UK since 2019.

Several seasoned N-League members believe that drawing attention to the party leadership’s absence from the country is unwise. They argue that Shehbaz Sharif, as the former prime minister and party leader, should return promptly to address the current challenges.

One anonymous leader was quoted by Dawn as saying, “They must come here and clarify to the people why they are facing these difficulties today. Leaving the country at this juncture is not a responsible action. We, the Pakistan leadership, are here discussing our accomplishments within a limited timeframe, and they should do the same. One cannot simply turn a blind eye, like a ‘kabootar’ (pigeon).”

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Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also believes that the top leadership should be available to address questions and concerns in Pakistan. He stated, “During our 16 months in government, we need to inform the people about our performance and why we were unable to resolve the issues that people are currently grappling with. We cannot distance ourselves from reality. If we fail to answer the people’s questions today, they will provide their own answers at the ballot box, making it imperative for us to engage.”

Veteran politician and senior N-League member Khawaja Asif emphasized that party members are actively engaging with the public in their constituencies, addressing concerns over rising costs and economic challenges directly. He said, “We are in the field, confronting the situation, and presenting our perspective to counter criticism. We are not taking a vacation or delegating proxies to address people’s concerns on our behalf.”

However, the task of addressing public anger over the ongoing cost of living and economic crises in the country is becoming increasingly critical. Former allies of the party have distanced themselves from measures taken by the previous PDM government in its final days, seeking to align themselves with public sentiment.

While a few leaders admit uncertainty about the party’s election narrative in the coming months, senior party members are confident that their proven track record will guide them through the challenges. Ahsan Iqbal raised a rhetorical question, stating, “The fundamental query we should pose to the people is this: In 2018, when Pakistan was on an upward trajectory, who forced us to crash-land?” He added, “The roots of our current predicament do not lie in the last 16 months but in the crash of 2018. If you are descending a hill, applying brakes to slow down still results in a fall. If we hadn’t taken charge, Pakistan would have faced external default due to the IMF agreements imposed by Imran Khan.”

 

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