LAHORE: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) believes that imposing Governor’s Rule in any province is out of question in the presence of the 18th constitutional amendment and tells the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that it will have to win over at least 45 PPP legislators in the Sindh Assembly for forming a forward bloc.

“Imposing Governor’s Rule in any province has been ruled out by the 18th constitutional amendment. Therefore, the ruling PTI will have to do away with it for meeting its ‘nefarious’ designs of ousting its political rivals from power by hook or by crook,” Punjab PPP general secretary Chaudhry Manzoor told a press conference here on Sunday.

Flanked by information secretary Hassan Murtaza, he said the meeting between PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and Balochistan National Party Chairman Akhtar Mengal sent warning bells ringing among the ruling alliance and they started putting pressure on the PPP leadership to pre-empt any anti-government move.

He said the PTI would need support of at least 45 PPP lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly for carving out a forward bloc in the party there and that’s an uphill task.

He was replying to a question about reports that Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s were making efforts to meet various leaders in Sindh for forming an alliance with the help of the PPP forward bloc to overthrow the incumbent provincial government there.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was making attempts to change the Sindh government but all these efforts would fail.

Chaudhry Manzoor, however, warned that the position of three PTI governments (one federal and two provincial) was critical for having thin majority. In Balochistan, particularly, a no-trust move against the Kamal government could be tabled easily with the help of Mr Mengal, he added.

He told a questioner that the PPP was so far fighting alone on the Sindh front and would welcome cooperation from other democratic forces.

The PPP leader claimed that the PTI government was working against his party for two reasons. “They wish to roll back the 18th amendment and change the formula for distribution of resources set in the National Finance Commission (NFC).” He said the PTI wanted presidential system in the country because Imran Khan could not tolerate difference of opinion seen in the parliamentary system.

He alleged that by placing the name of Murad Ali Shah on the Exit Control List (ECL), the federal government wanted to pressure him to resign as the Sindh chief minister. He argued that if initiation of an inquiry against anyone is the basis enough for including one’s name in the ECL, then the names of the prime minister, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as well as numerous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ministers should also be put on the list for they have various corruption inquiries pending against them.

Mr Murtaza said Imran Khan had been demanding for five years reopening of the Asghar Khan case. But, the FIA was seeking the case to be quashed while the agency is under him (Mr Khan) as the interior minister.

Demanding reopening of the case, he said it seemed the PTI government was working for giving NRO to someone after Aleema Khan.

Referring to a video clip of PTI leader Hamid Khan in which the senior lawyer is saying that Fawad Chaudhry used to be a ‘tout’ of judges when the information minister’s uncle Chaudhry Iftikhar Hussain was the chief justice of the Lahore High Court, the PPP leader demanded that the National Accountability Bureau must bring out evidence in this case and arrest the minister for corruption.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2018