LAHORE: The PPP has again missed an opportunity to remove the tag of ‘B Team’ of the ruling PML-N on the issue of Panama Leaks.

In a background discussion with some PPP leaders there was a clear disappointment on the decision of the leadership to again give a ‘safe passage’ to the Sharif family over Panama Papers.

The leaders were of the view that they were very much excited that young Bilawal Bhutto would take on the government on this issue and would try to extract maximum mileage but at the end of the day it was Imran Khan’s PTI that again emerged as real opposition.

“We seem to be sitting in the lap of the Sharifs for political expediencies,” grinned one of the leaders.

Another PPP leader from Punjab said: “In the meeting of senior leaders presided over by Bilawal the other day the party has opposed calls for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation over the revelation of his children’s names in setting up offshore companies. The prime minister appreciated Bilawal for his support. It just reminds me of those meetings of the PPP senior leaders in which they used to express solidarity with then president Asif Ali Zardari.”

Not happy about the ‘pro-PML-N’ stance of his party leadership, he further pinpointed that whom the leadership is trying to fool. “It says that we do not want to take to the streets against the government as ‘third force’ may take advantage of it. Had this third force taken advantage when Shahbaz Sharif was leading anti-loadshedding protests in Punjab almost throughout every summer and vowed to drag Zardari on the Lahore road? Had this force derailed our government when (former chief justice) Iftikhar Chaudhry used to take suo motu on almost daily basis? Come on; holding demonstrations does not mean removal of the government or demanding resignation means PM Sharif will be forced to resign. It is all about politics... which unfortunately we are not doing and there must be a reason behind it,” he rued.

Another leader said three years had passed, when Bilawal and Zardari would come out of ‘friendly opposition’ agreement with the Sharifs? “Today the workers are appreciating rather happy to hear Senator Aitzaz Ahsan’s statements against the Sharifs. But at the same time, our party’s policy does not correspond with such statements,” he said and suggested to the father-son duo to come out of their comfort zone and start the real opposition politics.

A die-hard worker commented: “I am fed up with statements of political expediencies from my leadership for the last three years. I think we have again missed out an opportunity to take on the Sharifs and untag ourselves as the B-Team of the PML-N. And have done so under some deal (with PML-N)?”

PPP senior leader and Zardari’s coordinator in Punjab Navid Chaudhry told Dawn that the party had to take the matter to the parliament and expose them (Sharifs) there. “We are not looking for some short-term gain. If the Sharifs fail to absolve themselves of the Panama charges the PPP will certainly take to the streets. It was the PPP that had first raised the issue of offshore companies of Nawaz Sharif’s children in 1993. Today our stance has vindicated,” he said, adding the PPP was not interested in toeing the PTI’S line.

“We do not want to go for agitation to wrap up this system,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2016

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