Much-anticipated opposition multiparty moot today

Updated June 26, 2019

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PML-N, PPP form special teams to participate in conference. — DawnNewsTV/File
PML-N, PPP form special teams to participate in conference. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: A much-anticipated multiparty conference (MPC) of the opposition parties aimed at discussing possibilities of launching an anti-government protest campaign from a single platform will be held here on Wednesday (today) as the PPP and the PML-N have formed teams for participation in the event in the wake of voting on cut motions in the National Assembly.

The PPP and the PML-N have constituted special teams to attend the MPC being hosted at a local hotel by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) with a view to ensuring the presence of their MNAs in the National Assembly during the voting process on the budget.

While the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) announced that its heavyweight delegation, to be headed by party president and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif, will participate in the MPC, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari nominated a five-member delegation for participation in the conference.

Besides Mr Sharif, the PML-N delegation will comprise Maryam Nawaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq, party chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, secretary general Ahsan Iqbal and all the provincial presidents.

PML-N, PPP form special teams to participate in conference

Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani, former Senate chairmen Raza Rabbani and Nayyar Bukhari, Sherry Rehman and Farhatullah Babar will represent the PPP.

However, talking to Dawn, Sherry Rehman said the composition of the delegation could be changed before start of the MPC as Mr Bhutto-Zardari had convened a meeting of the PPP before start of the conference to finalise the party’s strategy on how to get the budget rejected in the National Assembly.

A senior PPP member said there was a possibility that the PPP chairman might also attend the MPC for a brief time.

When contacted, Marriyum Aurangzeb said Mr Sharif and other MNAs of the party had decided to attend the MPC after failure of the National Assembly to hold a discussion on the charged expenditures, which would now be held on Wednesday morning and was expected to continue for three hours. In this way, she said, the party MNAs would be able to attend the NA sitting at the time of voting on the 720 cut motions which the joint opposition had submitted.

Ms Aurangzeb said the opposition was determined to defeat the anti-people budget with full force and during the party’s parliamentary party meeting presided over by Mr Sharif, the members had been directed to ensure their presence in the assembly during the crucial vote on the cut motions.

The Jamaat-i-Islami, which is sitting on the opposition benches, has already distanced itself from the MPC. Similarly, the Balochistan National Party (Mengal) which had been attending opposition meetings despite sitting on the treasury benches, is still undecided about its participation in the MPC.

A spokesman for the BNP-M said the party would make a final decision after an internal discussion in the morning.

The Awami National Party (ANP) has demanded that the opposition should move a no confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, if it was serious about launching an anti-government movement.

The PPP and the PML-N, however, seem to be reluctant to accept the ANP’s demand, but said that the final decision would be made in the MPC.

The decision to hold the MPC had been made by the leaders of 11 opposition parties during a well-attended Iftar dinner hosted by Mr Bhutto-Zardari in Islamabad last month. The dinner was also attended by Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former premier Nawaz Sharif, and Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz.

In the meeting, Maulana Fazl called for launching a full-fledged anti-government movement soon after Eidul Fitr, saying that “they are already too late”. But his proposal was not warmly received by the PPP and the PML-N.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2019