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LAHORE: Even the common cause of forcing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign after the ‘adverse’ judgement of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case has failed to bring the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) close.

Although PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari recently offered a hand of friendship to PTI chairman Imran Khan over the Panama Papers issue, the PTI says it will not be possible for it to take the PPP along to run an anti-corruption campaign against the prime minister as it will be counter-productive and damage the party’s reputation.

“The PTI has decided in principle not to join hands with the PPP over pressing PM Nawaz Sharif to resign. We welcome the PPP’s move to put pressure on the premier to resign but it is not possible for the PTI to go along with it in any anti-corruption drive,” PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn here on Sunday.

Imran is against going along with Zardari-led party; Kaira says his party wants all opposition parties on board against Sharif

The proposal of going along with the PPP after the Panama Papers case verdict was discussed in a PTI meeting, but Mr Khan had categorically rejected it, he said.

“The kind of image Mr Zardari has in the public regarding corruption the PTI prefers to stay away from it (PPP) and continue fighting against the corruption of the Sharif family in court, parliament and on roads alone,” Mr Chaudhry said and added that one could not be sure of Mr Zardari’s move in politics.

Answering a question about demanding the resignation of Mr Sharif together (PTI and PPP) in parliament, Mr Chaudhry said: “Almost all opposition parties, including PPP, PML-Q and Jamaat-i-Islami, are demanding resignation of the prime minister. So it has become a common voice of the opposition in parliament.”

Another PTI leader said that since Mr Zardari was the face of the PPP, the PTI-PPP alliance over any issue was simply out of question. “In case Bilawal Bhutto is fully empowered (by Mr Zardari) to run the party, the PTI may consider going along with it over different issues and even in 2018, a seat-adjustment between the PTI and Bilawal-led PPP is possible,” he said.

“Although some of the PTI leaders had asked Mr Khan to go soft on Mr Zardari during his Sindh tour, he is not willing to spare him (Mr Zardari) on the corruption issue,” he added.

On the other hand, the PPP says it wants all opposition parties on the same page to press Mr Sharif to resign as he has no moral justification after the judgement of the apex court in the Panama Papers case. It says it has decided to launch a movement for resignation of the premier in the face of corruption charges.

“We want all opposition parties on board against the premier. If the PTI wants to go along with us in this regard we may consider it. But the language Mr Khan used about Mr Zardari in a public meeting in Dadu on Saturday night was highly inappropriate,” Punjab PPP president Qamar Zaman Kaira said.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Kaira said the PPP always remained flexible to take other parties on board on different issues.

However, if an opposition party wanted a solo-flight it was its choice.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2017