Opposition parties agree on need for joint efforts

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LAHORE: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif talks to media personnel as PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Ahsan Iqbal look on.—White Star
LAHORE: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif talks to media personnel as PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Ahsan Iqbal look on.—White Star

LAHORE: The mainstream opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — are gearing up to devise a ‘joint strategy’ against the Imran Khan government with a claim that all opposition parties are on the same page to protect the rights of people by sending the ‘incompetent and selected’ regime home.

The leadership of the opposition parties on Tuesday decided that after Eidul Azha, the Rehbar Committee would discuss strategy to get rid of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, either through an in-house change or by taking to the streets, after which a multiparty conference would be held to finalise and announce the action plan.

The Punjab capital became a hub of political activities in the last two days as leaders of the three opposition parties met each other after a long break because of Covid-19.

PML-N, PPP, JUI-F leadership decide on post-Eid Rehbar Committee meeting to make strategy for sending PTI govt home

“There will be no need for any sit-in in Islamabad. We are sure if we march on Islamabad, this government will be toppled halfway to the capital,” PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told a joint presser with PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif at the latter’s house in Model Town.

Asked if the PML-N would hold a sit-in to oust the PTI government, Mr Sharif said the politics of sit-ins had already caused a lot of damage to the country. “Imran Khan’s seven-month sit-in in Islamabad caused enormous loss to the country and also created hindrance in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Chinese president’s visit was cancelled because of this. We believe in politics of logic and watch the interest of Pakistan.”

The PPP chairman said: “The people of Pakistan will hear a good news after Eid. We along with the PML-N and other opposition parties will fight for the rights of the people of Pakistan.” He told a questioner that a decision on whether the opposition should work for in-house change or seek mid-term polls would be taken from the joint platform of the united opposition.

“Impact of the talks between the opposition parties will be visible after Eidul Azha,” he said.

Mr Sharif declared that Pakistan and Imran Khan could not go along together any more. “The Imran government is nothing short of a threat to this country. Time has come to get rid of this selected and incompetent government for the sake of the oppressed people of the country,” he added.

In reply to a question about who would lead the protest campaign, Mr Shahbaz wanted Mr Bilawal to lead, but the latter said since the former had got well he should come forward to spearhead “this revolution”.

He said the Rehbar Committee would meet after Eid, followed by the holding of the multiparty conference in which the agenda of opposition would be made public.

The two leaders also took on the ruling party for the impression being created that the opposition was begging for some relief through the proposed legislation on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and changes to the National Accountability Bureau (Second Amendment) Ordinance.

Dispelling the impression, the PML-N president said why the opposition would ask for any relief when a number of their leaders had already gone through the worst political victimisation in the country’s history at the hands of NAB-Niazi alliance during the past two years.

“We are not running away from accountability and still our leaders are going through this worst political victimisation,” he said, asking as to why the cases against PTI’s corruption in BRT, Malamjabba, multiple mega scams of sugar, wheat and petrol crises were not being taken up.

The opposition leader in the National Assembly said the NAB law should be revisited in the light of the Supreme Court judgement in Saad Rafiq case and there were recommendations by different bar associations.

The PPP chairman said: “The PTI government is playing a game on FATF law. This fascist government wants to have Zia and Musharraf regimes like powers in the name of FATF which the opposition will not allow.” He said the opposition would never support the any proposed FATF and NAB laws if they usurped rights of the people.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said had he been in the National Assembly he would have given a befitting response to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for his comments that the opposition wanted relief on the NAB law.

“Why Qureshi is silent on the legislation regarding Kulbushan matter. He was trying to become a hero in the Raymond Davis case but now when it comes to Kulbushan Jadhav he is silent,” he remarked.

Asked about differences among the opposition parties, especially with the JUI-F which was earlier ‘betrayed’ by the two major parties last year during its Azadi March in Islamabad, the PML-N president said: “All opposition parties are on the same page to get rid of this most incompetent government in the history of the country.”

Earlier, the PPP chairman called on JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a local hotel and discussed with him the opposition’s protest plan.

Maulana Fazl said the Rahbar Committee, comprising senior leaders of all opposition parties, would give proposals about the likely agenda of the multiparty conference.

Responding to a query about the alternative after the ouster of the incumbent rulers, Maulana Fazl said at first the public mandate “stolen” in the 2018 general elections should be returned to the deserving so that the country could get political and economic stability. He said: “The steps taken by the PTI government during the last two years in power have damaged the country so much that a question mark has been put on its survival.”

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2020