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PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meets JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence on Monday. Former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf and JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri also attended the meeting.—Dawn
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meets JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence on Monday. Former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf and JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri also attended the meeting.—Dawn

ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties on Monday decided to hold a multiparty conference (MPC) in the last week of June to devise a strategy “to rid the country of the present Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) regime”.

The opposition parties also hinted at the possible demand by the MPC for an in-house change so that someone else from within the ruling PTI could hold the office of prime minister.

Political temperatures remained high in the federal capital, as the opposition parties held two separate meetings in connection with the MPC, while the PTI held its parliamentary party meeting to devise its strategy for the budget session during which the ruling party legislators blocked speeches of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif.

The meetings of the opposition parties took place at the residence of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Initially, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari met the JUI-F chief and then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif met Maulana Fazl.

Before Eid, the main opposition parties, including the PPP and the PML-N, had reportedly requested the JUI-F chief to convene a multiparty conference to devise a strategy to effectively oppose the government’s economic policies.

After their meetings, the JUI-F chief, PPP chairman and PML-N president held two separate press conferences and announced that the MPC would finally be convened in the last week of June.

“Removal of the government is the only way of the country’s freedom,” said Maulana Fazl, adding that all opposition parties would take part in the MPC.

“We will follow a unanimous decision of MPC and will fight the government that has no ground to rule any more,” he said.

The JUI-F chief agreed that the opposition had not taken significant steps since their July 28 meeting to unite all opposition parties. “Now all opposition parties are on the same page and agreed to hold MPC,” he added.

He said the government was trying to pass the recently announced federal budget, but it would not manage to do so. “Now it has become difficult for the government to get the budget passed from the National Assembly,” he added.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif said the main opposition parties had principally agreed to hold an MPC this month.

Asked about the objective of the MPC, he said aims and objectives would be decided with the consensus of all opposition parties. However, he did not rule out the opposition’s possible demand for an in-house change. “In-house change is a legal and constitutional way,” he explained.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said they [the opposition] would not let the government pass the recently announced budget 2019-20.

Terming the budget ‘anti-people’ and ‘economic suicide’, he said the budget was made on the directives of an international agency. “This is not our own budget, as it was prepared aboard. The whole opposition should try its best to oppose the passage of the budget,” he added.

Later, Mr Bhutto-Zardari chaired a meeting of the PPP coordination committee and discussed the federal budget and the party’s mass-contact campaign to be kicked off soon.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019