ISLAMABAD: Leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party, including Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, pictured during the meeting on Tuesday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party, including Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, pictured during the meeting on Tuesday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Two main opposition parties — the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — have decided to separately engage Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to ask him to delay his planned anti-government long march.

The two parties have also decided that a meeting of the heads of all opposition parties will soon be convened to finalise a unified and joint future action plan to throw the present government out of power.

The decisions were taken by the two parties during a meeting between PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif along with their senior members at the latter’s residence here on Tuesday.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman and PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal claimed that there was no difference of opinion among the opposition parties regarding sending this government packing.

PPP, PML-N decide to convene a meeting of all opposition parties soon to finalise action plan against PTI govt

“There is no difference of opinion among the joint opposition regarding sending the PTI back to where it came from, but it has to be ensured that any and all actions are through a consensus and not through any solo flight,” said Ms Rehman.

Mr Iqbal said they had agreed that all decisions would be made from a united and collective platform of the joint opposition.

“The only democratic and constitutional way out of this dead-end is fresh elections. The opposition parties will build a consensus of opinion and action on how to approach this objective to ensure consistency of democracy. These meetings are a part of that process,” he said.

Mr Iqbal said it had been decided that a summit of opposition parties would be called to finalise a unified and joint future action plan to oust the PTI regime “which has lost credibility to stay in power”.

He said the opposition believed that only solution to the disastrous state of country’s economy and governance was the ouster of the “incompetent and incapable PTI regime” which had become a “threat to Pakistan and poison for its people”.

Mr Iqbal said the top leaders of the PML-N and PPP would hold separate meetings with Maulana Fazl over the next few days, adding that the PML-N would apprise the JUI-F chief of the decisions taken by the party’s Central Executive Committee at its meeting on Sept 30.

The PML-N’s CEC had decided that the party would approach the JUI-F with a request to delay the planned long march at least for a month to allow the party to mobilise its workers.

Mr Iqbal said the catastrophic mismanagement by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had crushed businessmen, investors and most brutally the hardworking and poor people of the country to the point where their survival was at stake.

He pointed out that the “incapable and unqualified PTI” had isolated Pakistan in the international committee which was why it could not even get 16 votes at the UN Human Rights Council for the occupied Kashmir resolution. He said the opposition was united and committed to ridding the people of this regime which had taken away their lives and livelihoods.

Sherry Rehman said oil prices were falling in the international market and even Ogra (Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority) had recommended reduction in the prices, but the PTI regime was bent upon dumping the load of its failures on the people. She said the reason behind such brutal anti-people policies of the PTI was that they had no connection and authentication from the people.

“They have come into power not by the power of people’s vote which is why they do not care about the consequences of their actions on them,” she said. “This demand to send this government packing is not a political agenda of the opposition but a desperate call of the people of Pakistan,” she added.

Responding to a question about participation in JUI-F’s long march, Ms Rehman said they would try to convince Maulana Fazl to move together against the government.

She indirectly criticised the JUI-F for unilaterally giving a call for the long march. “Public meeting or a long march, there should be no unilateral announcement,” she said.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd , 2019