LAHORE: Top leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday finalised their strategy aimed to de-seat the incumbent chairman of the Senate and replace him with their joint candidate.

After a late-night meeting that lasted about two hours, they ruled out any “surprises in the process despite utmost desperation from the government (side)”.

The meeting was primarily between JUI-F emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, who were assisted by their teams, including Maryam Nawaz. Issues related to the opposition’s no-confidence motion against the sitting Senate chairman as well as the protests proposed to be held on July 25 — declared as a ‘black day’ by the opposition parties — were discussed in detail at the meeting.

During the deliberations, Maulana Fazl suggested that Ms Nawaz should address a protest rally in Lahore, whereas Mr Sharif, being president of the PML-N, should speak at the main protest rally in Peshawar.

However, Mr Sharif said that because of his severe backache he could not travel to the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It was decided that both the parties, along with other opposition parties, would ensure that big demonstrations were held across the country.

Earlier, expressing his no-confidence in the electoral exercise taking place in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas that has been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Maulana Fazl said that “as usual the establishment would finalise the results”.

Talking to media personnel at the Jamia Ashrafia, he said: “Our party is contesting these elections only to stay in touch with the people of the area. Otherwise, the country is being ruled by the establishment.”

He said those who had ruined the country’s economy were ruining its political atmosphere as well by arresting key leaders almost on a daily basis.

“The country is going through political and financial instability like never before. The reason for this instability is the selected government.”

He was of the opinion that the charges levelled at the PML-N after the 2013 general elections were minor as compared to what happened on July 25 last year.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2019