ISLAMABAD: Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who refused any other ministry except foreign affairs, used to pay courtesy calls to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif in London before joining the cabinet.
“During his stopovers while going the United States to meet his son, Qureshi mostly used to meet Nawaz Sharif in London when the latter was living in Britain in exile,” an eyewitness, who is a senior PML-N leader, told The News.
A source close to the outgoing foreign minister confirmed that Qureshi had been paying courtesy calls to the PML-N chief for the old good relations between their two families.
The source said during his sessions with Nawaz Sharif, Qureshi usually recalled his father’s stint as the governor of Punjab (1985-1988) when the PML-N president was its chief minister. He was thankful to Nawaz Sharif for giving his father, Makhdoom Sajjad Hussain Qureshi, the gubernatorial position.
Once Qureshi was accompanied by his son, who was studying in the United States, during his meeting with Nawaz Sharif and he remarked during it that ‘our two generations had had good ties and I want this relationship to be upheld by the third generation as well’.
Nawaz Sharif, the source said, was always appreciative and respectful of Qureshi’s gestures that were made as part of his family traditions, reflecting decency and civility.
Before joining the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Qureshi was associated with the PML-N for over a decade. However, he developed differences with Nawaz Sharif over the award of party tickets in Multan especially to Javed Hashmi in the 1997 parliamentary polls and decided to part ways with him.
But he did not go away from the PML-N, abusing and hurling every kind of wild allegation on it, as most people would do, but met Nawaz Sharif at his Model Town Lahore residence, recorded his reservations and conveyed his decision to leave his party. Since then, he has never been found criticizing, even mildly, the Sharif brothers on any issue.
“Qureshi left us as a principled politician and never tried, even slightly, to kick off dust on the PML-N in his political career,” a PML-N leader said. Despite his present differences with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani and the treatment they have meted out to him, Qureshi has made it clear that he belongs to the PPP and his commitment to the party is beyond question.
In the local politics of Multan, Qureshi and Javed Hashmi are no less bitter rivals than Qureshi and Yusuf Raza Gilani are. Qureshi stayed as member of the Punjab Assembly from 1985 to 1993 until he received the PML-N ticket to the National Assembly. Hashmi defeated him only once in the 1997 general elections. However, Qureshi routed Hashmi in the two subsequent elections of 2002 and 2008. He served as minister of state for parliamentary affairs in the second Benazir Bhutto government.
Apart from Ahmed Mukhtar, Qureshi was also a leading candidate for the office of the prime minister after the 2008 elections, but Zardari finally picked up Gilani and made Qureshi foreign minister.