LAHORE: As the PML-N has renewed efforts for Nawaz-Zardari meeting, the PPP says the former president may shake hand with the ousted premier provided it is guaranteed that the latter will not use this to cut a deal with the establishment.
“Some of the main leaders including Shahbaz Sharif are in contact with the establishment. We have apprehensions that like in the past, the PML-N this time round too is trying to use the PPP for its own gains and not for strengthening democracy,” PPP Information Secretary Chaudhry Manzoor told Dawn on Sunday.
The PPP leader says his party believes that there has been no threat to the democratic system from any one and if there is still any, it is from the PML-N led by Nawaz Sharif. “The PML-N leadership is seeking help of leaders like Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Maulana Fazlur Rehman for arranging Nawaz-Zardari meeting but this is not possible without certain guarantees,” Mr Manzoor said. The PPP had stood with the PML-N in 2014 when there was a threat to the democratic system but Mr Sharif even used that support to consolidate his position instead of democracy.
“The credentials of the Sharifs for democracy are questionable. The former premier has no idea what real democracy is all about. Who knows if today Zardari Sahib meets Mr Sharif for the sake of democracy, tomorrow the latter ditches the former and joins other forces for his own benefits,” he said and also reminded Mr Sharif of his refusal to meet Mr Zardari when he made a strong speech about the establishment a few years ago.
The PML-N is of the view that Mr Sharif’s desperation to meet Mr Zardari is not confined to the matter related to seeking PPP’s support for the passage of the 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill for timely holding the 2018 election but beyond that. It wants to “strengthen democratic process” in the country in the face of current challenges.
“Democracy is the key cause for which Mr Sharif is ready to shun his ego and sit with Mr Zardari. We would like to remind Mr Zardari of his own words that there was a cat (third force) awaiting an opportunity to drink milk taking advantage of fight among the political parties (PML-N and PPP). We do not want this happens again,” PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid told Dawn.
In the first-year rule of the PML-N, Zardari while referring to retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had said: “A Bila (cat) drinks milk by taking advantage of the fight among the political parties. Mian Sahib we should not fight and not let Bila take advantage of it.”
Replying to a question about Mr Sharif’s desperation to meet Mr Zardari, Mr Sharif’s close aide said: “Yes… Mian Sahib is desperate to see Mr Zardari because he wants to meet him for not any personal issue but for a national cause. He wants to see him for strengthening the democratic system. It is not only the wish of Mian Sahib that this system should continue but other players like Mr Zardari has his duty to play his role.”
For continuity of democracy Nawaz Sharif would continue making efforts to take on board all those sincere to this cause in the country, Senator Rashid said.
Chaudhry Manzoor said Mr Zardari had lent his full support to Mr Sharif to try Musharraf but he (Sharif) let him off the hook.
Another PML-N leader from Punjab said: “We are surprised as why Mr Zardari is not budging from his stance of not meeting Mr Sharif. There must be something fishy. Mian Sahib is aware of it but for democracy’s sake he is not losing hope to have the PPP by his side,” he said.
Earlier, Nawaz Sharif had met real estate tycoon Malik Riaz tasking him to arrange his meeting with Mr Zardari. But since no indirect connections could prove fruitful, Sharif recently had sought meeting with Zardari but he refused again.
Meanwhile, Bilawal will convene a meeting to finalise the party stance on the Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Senate.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is convening a party meeting this week to finalise its strategy in the Senate regarding the Constitutional Amendment Bill. The Bill will empower the Election Commission to begin the process of delimitation of constituencies based on the provisional results of the latest census. The PPP, the only major party in Senate, has reservations about the delimitation.
“The Senate session is going to be held on Dec 11 and the PPP will decide its stance after Dec 5. Mr Bilawal will preside over a party meeting after Tuesday and take a decision whether to support this amendment or not after consulting the party leaders,” Chaudhry Manzoor said.
Earlier, the PPP had called this amendment a “trap” to delay the election. “We want the 2018 election on time and for that reason the PPP should support the bill in Senate,” Pervaiz Rashid said and reminded the PPP of its constitutional duty in this regard.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2017