ISLAMABAD: PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday confirmed that he had resigned as the party’s senior vice president in an effort to give Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz an “open field”.
The confirmation came after a story published in The News quoted Abbasi as saying that he had “stepped down from the party office within an hour of the announcement” of Maryam’s elevation to the roles of senior vice president and chief organiser.
The story also quoted him as saying that he would “continue to stay with the PML-N until death”.
Addressing the matter during an appearance on Samaa News, Abbasi confirmed that he had sent his resignation to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif when Maryam was appointed, adding that he had expected the party to announce the development.
He said that the “basic principle” behind the move was that Maryam should be provided with an “open field” as she assumed the new responsibilities.
Giving the example of former premier Benazir Bhutto, Abbasi said that her first stint in power suffered due to conflicts with her father’s contemporaries. He said that during Benazir’s second term, there were “newer people” around which allowed her to move forward.
“That is why I think it appropriate that Maryam should get an open field and my being there was not appropriate for her or for me,” he said, adding that his presence as the senior vice president “would’ve been an obstacle “ for her.
Abbasi further said that he had not discussed the matter with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and had sent his resignation to PM Shehbaz, the party’s president. “Resignations are a normal matter so I don’t give them much importance.”
He also rebuffed a question about leaving the PML-N, saying: “No one leaves the party, it is a very big decision.”
Abbasi’s decision comes at a time when Maryam has commenced a country-wide election campaign after returning to Pakistan from her four-month sojourn in London.
In the past weeks, Abbasi has also been holding seminars and press conferences along with other like-minded leaders from across the political arena — including former finance minister Miftah Ismail, former senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisani in a campaign they’ve termed “Reimagining Pakistan”.
Previously, while talking to Shahzeb Khanzada on Geo News, Abbasi had refuted reports that he was planning to quit the PML-N, saying he had also seen such reports on social media, which surged after the seminars.
Earlier, PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair had insisted that Abbasi had resigned from the party position, despite Abbasi’s spokesperson issuing a denial earlier in the day and deeming media reports to the contrary “baseless”.
In a statement Abbasi’s spokesperson rejected the remarks associated with the PML-N leader, asserting that “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is [still] the party’s senior vice president”.
He questioned why Abbasi would leave the party now when he had not done so during difficult times.
Shortly after, PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair who is also the spokesperson of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif confirmed Abbasi’s resignation as the party’s vice president.
“Abbasi has resigned from the post of senior vice-president. He is a party worker and a very senior representative,” Zubair said. “I don’t think leaving the position will have any effect on his stature. He is a big leader who has been the prime minister. The party needs him, his professional experience, political insight, and experience.”