PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif was not invited to grace the VVIP gallery of the National Assembly to listen to the parliamentary speech of President Asif Ali Zardari, his party spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid said. And Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif did not turn up at the annual ritual to assert that Zardari should first transform himself into the president of Pakistan from the Pakistan People√*s Party (PPP) Co-chairman, he told The News. National Assembly spokesman Mehboob Gurmani, when contacted, said only those who held official positions either at the Centre or provinces were invited and no former prime minister was invited. He said some people were also invited at the request of political parties but not a single PML-N member requested the National Assembly to invite Nawaz Sharif. ‚ÄúWe only invited the governors, chief ministers, speakers of provincial assemblies and other dignitaries occupying senior positions,‚ÄĚ said the spokesman. However, Pervez Rashid said the entire PML-N parliamentary party was present in the House and quietly heard the presidential speech. This was a well considered policy of the party, he said. Other PML-N leaders, pleading anonymity, said that their party did not want to give any message that it stood with the president, who was not respecting the judiciary, judicial decisions, especially the Supreme Court verdict on the NRO, and the law. Analysts, however, interpreted the absence of the Punjab chief minister as something in a bad taste, particularly when the PML-N√*s major demands, including the undoing of the 17th Amendment have been accepted.
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They said Shahbaz Sharif should have shown grace and this would have generally gone well. They said if the PML-N was so much disturbed over the president√*s lack of respect for judicial decisions, it should have officially announced that the Sharif brothers would not listen to the president√*s speech for this precise reason instead of saying this in the background. This would have built some pressure on Zardari to bow to the judiciary√*s decisions, they said. Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had told this correspondent after Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani√*s meeting with Nawaz Sharif last week that the PML-N Quaid had not received any invitation for the presidential speech. Invitation cards for the occasion were issued by the National Assembly secretary with the approval of Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza. The PML-N leaders said it was part of their party√*s strategy to continue showing distance from President Zardari for one reason or the other because the PPP was and would be their main political rival, and whenever general elections would be held, the main contest would be between these two parties. They said the PML-N was quite unhappy with the president for thrusting an embarrassing situation on it by accepting the new name of the NWFP, proposed by the Awami National Party (ANP), even before any political party did so. We were pushed in such tight spot that we were left with no option but to accept the ANP√*s position to a great extent otherwise we were to suffer the accusation of sabotaging the constitutional package, a PML-N leader said. He said it was the first time since 2007 when the Sharif brothers flew back into Pakistan from exile, the PML-N came under public pressure on the question of the 18th Amendment and this was only because of the president√*s tactics. What was the point to start the NWFP describing as Pukhtoonkhwa by Zardari in his official addresses even before the Constitution was amended to incorporate the new name of the province, he added.
By: The News