ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) decided on Thursday to launch a campaign to mount pressure on the government starting with a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who has been trying to seek parliamentary support in the standoff with the judiciary on the NRO and with the military on the memo issues.
Sources in the PML-N said the decision had been taken at a joint meeting of the party's central working committee and the parliamentary group, presided over by party chief Nawaz Sharif. But it was subject to a response from other political parties, they said.
The leadership, the sources said, had asked Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan to muster support of other parties for the no-confidence move and report back to it in another similar meeting to be held on Monday.
Ironically, the sources said, Chaudhry Nisar had pressed for devising a strategy to defeat any move by the PPP to gain a vote of confidence for the prime minister, instead of going for the no confidence motion.
However, the party's MNA from Murree, Shahid Khagan Abbasi, and stalwart Khawaja Asif won the day, proposing that the PML-N should `take the initiative` and move `no confidence` in the prime minister not so much to remove him from the office as to add to the PPP`s troubles. A debate on the motion would allow the parliamentarians to attack the party on all issues and from all sides, they argued.
Soon after the meeting, Chaudhry Nisar met leaders of other opposition parties and informed them about the party`s decisions and sought their support.
He met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Prof Khurshid Ahmed, head of the PML (Likeminded) Salim Saifullah Khan and PPP-S president Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao at his chamber in the Parliament House.
Talking to reporters, Chaudhry Nisar said there was a consensus among all opposition parties that fresh elections were the only solution to the present crisis.
He said the PML-N would oppose any move by the treasury to bring a resolution in support of the prime minister during the present session of the National Assembly.
The sources said Nawaz Sharif would meet Maulana Fazl, Salim Saifullah and Af tab Sherpao on Friday.
They said some party members, particularly Saad Rafique, had urged the leadership to announce a full fledged protest campaign against the government and even called for giving a date for a long march.
Some members also talked about the option of resigning from the assemblies, but the arguments advanced by Khagan Abbasi in support of his proposal of moving a no confidence motion against Mr Gilani won applause and later the whole discussion at the meeting that lasted more than three hours centred on the mechanism to initiate the process.
Because of lengthy discussion on the issue of no-confidence motion, the sources said, the party had failed to devise a strategy for Friday's National Assembly session.
The PML-N`s information secretary, Mushahidullah Khan, said the party had decided to use the options of moving a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, holding a long march and resigning en masse from the assemblies.
However, he said, the order in which these options would be executed had been left for Mr Sharif to decide.