ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has admitted that all his efforts to arrange a meeting between supreme leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari have failed and announced that he is no more interested in mediating between the two.
Talking informally to a group of reporters at his residence here on Wednesday, the JUI-F chief said despite his efforts both Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari were not ready to end their grievances against each other.
“I tried to end their differences, but their complaints with each other remain,” he regretted. He, however, said that he still desired to see an end to the differences between them.
Maulana Fazl said that opposition’s unity was required in the prevailing political situation in the country. He said differences of opinion were always there in politics, but if the opposition parties wanted to form a united front their leadership would have to resolve these differences.
The Maulana says opposition’s unity is required in the prevailing political situation
Mr Zardari, along with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, had visited the Lahore residence of Mr Sharif to condole the death of his spouse Kulsoom in September last year. However, there had been no direct and formal meeting between Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari for the past many years. Mr Zardari always alleges that the cases he has been facing today had been filed by Mr Sharif.
The JUI-F, which had contested the election from the platform of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), rejected the results of the 2018 elections and announced that its elected members would not take the oath as members of the National Assembly. This stance, however, was not supported by other opposition parties, including the PPP and the PML-N, which forced the MMA leadership to reconsider its decision.
Later, the JUI-F chief announced that on the insistence of other opposition parties, they had decided to go to parliament and give a tough time to the government on every front.
The opposition parties had agreed to jointly contest the elections for the offices of speaker, deputy speaker and prime minister. However, the opposition alliance crumbled after the PPP refused to vote for Shahbaz Sharif for the office of prime minister in August last year.
The opposition parties made another attempt to forge an alliance at the time of the presidential elections, but failed to field a joint candidate against PTI’s nominee Arif Alvi.
However, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had been nominated by the PPP and the PML-N to play the role of a mediator between them, himself became a presidential candidate. The PML-N and other opposition parties supported the Maulana, whereas the PPP fielded Aitzaz Ahsan for the top office.
The PPP was angry over the Maulana’s decision to contest the presidential election and some of its leaders in their statements showed displeasure over this act of the JUI-F chief.
However, the Maulana, who is known for having a special relationship with both Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, became once again active when the National Accountability Bureau arrested the PML-N leaders and initiated an inquiry against Mr Zardari in the fake bank accounts case.
It was Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif who took the initiative and met both Mr Zardari and Mr Bhutto-Zardari during the National Assembly sessions.
Last month, Shahbaz Sharif formally presided over a meeting of the joint opposition in his chamber which was also attended by Mr Zardari and Mr Bhutto-Zardari.
Shahbaz Sharif had received Mr Zardari outside his chamber before the start of the meeting which continued for more than two hours. It was also attended by representatives of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal — a partner in the ruling coalition.
Later, the opposition parties announced that they had agreed on the formation of a committee to finalise a joint strategy to give a tough time to the ruling coalition inside and outside parliament and to hold negotiations with the government on the issue of granting a second extension to the military courts set up in 2015 to try civilians on charges of terrorism.
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2019