MPC sets sights on removal of Senate chairman

June 27, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Opposition leaders Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Yousuf Raza Gillani and Mahmood Khan Achakzai attend a multi-party conference on Wednesday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
ISLAMABAD: Opposition leaders Maryam Nawaz, Shahbaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Yousuf Raza Gillani and Mahmood Khan Achakzai attend a multi-party conference on Wednesday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

ISLAMABAD: The opposition’s multi-party conference (MPC) on Wednesday decided to adopt a constitutional way for the removal of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, but could not make any decision on a planned lockdown of Islamabad.

The MPC, which continued for eight hours, decided that a black day would be observed on July 25 against what it described as ‘rigged’ general elections of 2018 and a big public meeting would be held in Lahore on that day.

The participants formed a committee called Rehbar Committee to implement the decisions of the MPC and finalise the name of the joint candidate of the opposition for the office of Senate chairman.

The MPC rejected the federal budget 2019-20, saying it was inimical to the interests of the people, traders and farmers and destructive for the economy as well as hea­lth and education sectors.

Opposition leaders call for observing black day on July 25, reject formation of National Development Council, debt commission

The MPC, hosted at a local hotel by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl), was attended, among others, by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Maryam Nawaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq, PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, secretary general Ahsan Iqbal and all provincial presidents of the party, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, former Senate chairmen Raza Rabbani and Nayyar Bukhari, Sherry Rehman and Farhatullah Babar.

At the end of the conference, Mr Sharif, Maulana Fazl and Mr Bhutto-Zardari addressed a joint press conference to inform the media about the decisions taken at the MPC.

Maulana Fazl said the MPC rejected the recently formed National Development Council in which representation had also been given to Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa because in the presence of the National Economic Council — a constitutional body — there was no need for another parallel body to discuss development and economy-related policies.

The MPC also denounced the recently formed debt inquiry commission and said that if the government wanted to ascertain how foreign debts had been used in the past, it should start such investigations from the year 2000.

The meeting called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to withdraw its notification about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly elections in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas in which the army had been given magisterial powers and allowed to be deployed inside polling stations.

It was decided in the MPC that all opposition parties would kick off their mass contact campaigns to mobilise people against the government, its ‘faulty’ economic policies and unprecedented price hike.

The Balochistan National Party (Mengal) and Jamaat-i-Islami stayed away from the MPC. The BNP-M, an ally of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, had recently attended meetings of the opposition parties but when the MPC was in progress, its chief Akhtar Mengal was meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan at the latter’s chamber in the Parliament House and later voted in favour of the passage of the federal budget 2019-20 in the National Assembly.

Interestingly, the joint resolutions adopted by the MPC covered all six demands of BNP-Mengal, including the conduct of trial of all missing persons in open courts. The government also formed a committee to address the demands of the party.

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 the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz.

In the meeting, Maulana Fazl had 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 27th, 2019