The PPP seems to have decided that it will not be backing down from fielding its own nominee in the presidential election on September 4, but is yet to issue a formal statement in this regard.
Senior leaders of the party, who met today to deliberate Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman's 'request' for support in the presidential election as the opposition's joint candidate, seem to have decided to go ahead with Aitzaz Ahsan's nomination after the party's chairman said he would not reconsider, DawnNewsTV reported quoting sources.
The PML-N's acting secretary general, Ahsan Iqbal, had said yesterday that all opposition parties had repeatedly requested the PPP leadership to suggest a panel of three names, one of whom would be nominated by the alliance through consensus.
The PPP had refused to budge from Ahsan, however, and the deadline for filing papers had lapsed on Monday noon.
"I have three nominees: Aitzaz, Aitzaz and Aitzaz," Bilawal Bhutto was reported to have said today.
The failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate is expected to provide a virtual walkover to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Dr Arif Rehman Alvi, an MNA from Karachi.
The JUI-F chief, who had been playing the role of mediator between the PML-N and the PPP, has the backing of all component parties of the now all-but-defunct Pakistan Alliance for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFE).
Besides the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the PML-N, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was handed a humiliating defeat in two constituencies in last month's general election, is also being supported by the Awami National Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and National Party.
Meanwhile, the PPP seems to be moving ahead in isolation.
It exchanged terse words with the PML-N yesterday over the latter's insinuation that by denying its support to the opposition candidate, it was acting under duress due to Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur's nomination in a fake accounts case.
“Don’t tell us about our compulsions. We know about everyone’s compulsions,” Chaudhry Manzoor had said, recalling that Zardari and his sister had appeared before the FIA in a case that had been prepared in 2014-15 when the PML-N at the helm of affairs.
Manzoor had also dispelled the impression that the opposition parties had formed any formal alliance.
“It was not an alliance like ARD [Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy] or the PNA [Pakistan National Alliance]. Had there been such an alliance, there should have been a president and a general secretary. This was an arrangement and not an alliance,” the PPP leader explained.