ISLAMABAD: Cracks within the opposition ranks have started surfacing ahead of the anti-government long march as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Monday sought a clarification from the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) over its act of supporting the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the upcoming by-election on a Sindh Assembly seat from Larkana.
President of the PPP’s Sindh chapter Nisar Khuhro through a video message expressed his surprise over the JUI-F’s policy of opposing the PTI at the Centre and supporting the same party in the province, saying this policy did not match the stature of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
“I am daring to ask this question from (JUI-F chief) Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Are you with the PTI or against it?” Mr Khuhro said while alleging that the JUI-F’s Sindh chapter had made an alliance with the PTI in the by-election to be held for the provincial assembly seat from Larkana (PS-11) on Oct 17.
Khuhro says it is a dual policy of JUI-F to be PTI’s opponent at centre and an ally in province
“It is a dual policy of the JUI-F to be the PTI’s opponent at the Centre and an ally in Sindh,” Mr Khuhro said.
He said the PPP was facilitating the JUI-F for ‘Azadi March’ in Sindh on the directives of party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. The JUI-F, he said, was getting all possible help from the Sindh government for its ‘Azadi March’ but was campaigning against the PPP in the by-election.
“The PPP Jiyalas (activists) are angry and frustrated because of the dual policy of Maulana Fazlur Rehman,” Mr Khuhro added. He said the Maulana should answer if the local leadership of Larkana was acting on its own and in violation of the party’s discipline or was it in line with the party policy.
Despite repeated attempts, no one from the JUI-F could be contacted for comments on the situation arising out after the PPP leader’s statement.
The relationship between the JUI-F and the PPP turned sour last month after the latter refused to join the anti-government long march and the leaders from both parties openly accused each other of playing politics on the matter.
It was the JUI-F which had first accused the PPP of adopting double standards on the issue of the long march, saying that on one hand, the PPP considered the long march unconstitutional and illegal and, on the other, it was extending moral and political support to it.
JUI-F information secretary Hafiz Hussain Ahmed had claimed that when the PPP faced victimisation despite creating rift within the opposition ranks in order to appease certain forces, the party leaders had come to Maulana Fazlur Rehman and asked him to launch a protest campaign against the PTI government.
Sources said the JUI-F leadership was unhappy over certain remarks made by the PPP chairman about their planned long march. The sources said the JUI-F leaders had taken serious notice of Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s remarks during a news conference in which he had stated that he was not participating in the JUI-F’s protest sit-in as he did not want to become a ‘moulvi’.
Speaking at a news conference after presiding over a meeting of the party’s core committee in Islamabad on Sept 19, Mr Bhutto-Zardari had ruled out the possibility of joining the long march being planned by the JUI-F.
“I do not want to do politics of dharna. I want to do politics of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. Why do you want me to become a moulvi?” the PPP chairman had said in response to a question as to why the party was running away from the anti-government protest of the JUI-F.
The JUI-F chief had on Aug 25 announced that his party had planned a decisive long march towards Islamabad aimed at ousting the present “fake government” in October.
He then announced that the JUI-F’s long march would begin on Oct 27 and later declared that the participants of the march would enter Islamabad on Oct 31.
The JUI-F chief, whose party had initially decided to boycott parlia-ment after the last year’s general elections, has been pressing the other opposition parties to launch a decisive movement to dislodge the government, but he has so far failed to get a positive response from them, mainly from the PPP and the PML-N.
Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2019