LAHORE: Belying his earlier claim that mainstream opposition parties are on the same page, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday targeted the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, saying that like Imran Khan PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif had also been ‘selected’ (by the establishment) for the post of premier.
“Before Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif was a selected premier. Benazir Bhutto did not allow Mr Sharif to become Ameerul Momeneen (emir of Muslims) and led a vibrant opposition with just 17 members in the National Assembly (in 1997),” he said while talking to reporters at Bilawal House in Bahria Town here.
Not sparing Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, the PPP leader said: “Like the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the PML-N also does not give importance to parliament. The role of opposition leader in the National Assembly is important but he (Shahbaz) is in London. We hope that he will return soon and play his role as opposition leader.”
The PPP leader said if comparison was made between Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and his former counterpart in Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, the former was better. “And Mr Shah has no comparison with his counterparts in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan,” he added.
PML-N leaders refrain from responding to PPP chairman to avert divide in opposition
Taking on the Sharif brothers further, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said when the people of Punjab needed their leaders they “disappear”.
Former premier Nawaz Sharif has been undergoing medical treatment in London since November last while Shahbaz Sharif is there to look after him.
When contacted for the PML-N’s reaction, a couple of its parliamentarians said they could give a befitting reply to the PPP chairman’s tirade against the Sharif brothers but this was not an appropriate time. “Bilawal is a child and responding to his anti-Sharifs remarks may not reflect well on the politics of the opposition. The PTI is looking for a divide among the opposition parties desperately,” a PML-N lawmaker said, adding that had the PPP leader been politically mature, he would not have passed such comments to the amusement of the PTI government.
The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, another important opposition party, has already expressed anger towards both PML-N and PPP for neither supporting its Islamabad sit-in nor accepting any other political strategy to give a tough time to the government.
The PML-N leaders believe that such a comment by Mr Bhutto-Zardari about the Sharifs might further divide the opposition.
Just a couple of days ago, the PPP leader had declared that the opposition was on the same page and weighing different options, including an in-house change, to rid the country of the “inefficient” Imran Khan-led government. In a reference to the establishment, he had also asked the ‘selector’ to take note of the poor performance of Imran Khan as enough time had been given to his government to deliver.
On Saturday, the PPP chief predicted that the PTI government would be sent packing in the next six months. “This unconstitutional government has no powers and it will be sent home within six months,” he said and made it clear that PPP would not shake hands with the establishment for power sharing after removal of the PTI government. “We will not cut a deal with the establishment to come to power,” he said and added that “selected” governments were used by foreign powers.
Meanwhile, federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said in a tweet: “Those banking on the PML-N [for any change in the government], for their kind information that if Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz are allowed to leave the country they will love to quit as they are fed up with politics.”
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2020