Bilawal, Maryam hold meeting in Gilgit

Published November 12, 2020
GILGIT: PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz in conversation with PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.—White Star
GILGIT: PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz in conversation with PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: A day after differently reacting over the Army’s inquiry report on the Karachi incident, PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari held a one-on-one meeting in Gilgit on Wednesday in an effort to quell misunderstandings between the two parties on the matter.

Later, other senior members of the two parties joined their leaders in the meeting which took place at a hotel where many leaders of Pakistan’s main political parties have been staying in connection with Nov 15 elections in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

Sources said the meeting took place at the initiative of Ms Nawaz after she got reports that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was unhappy over Nawaz Sharif’s tweet in which he had rejected the Army’s inquiry report on the Karachi incident and termed it a “cover-up scapegoating juniors and shielding the real culprits”.

Read: Army inquiry report on Karachi incident 'rejected', says Nawaz

Mr Bhutto-Zardari, on the other hand, had hailed the inquiry report and termed it a step to “fortify the prestige of institutions”.

The Pakistan Army on Tuesday had announced removal of some officials of the premier Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan Rangers from their current assignments after finding that they had acted “overzealously” in the alleged kidnapping of the Sindh police chief that had caused “misunderstanding between two institutions”.

The one-on-one meeting takes place a day after PPP, PML-N offered different reactions to the army’s report on ‘Karachi incident’

The inquiry took less than three weeks to complete after Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa vowed to look into the matter following complaints from the opposition parties and police officers’ en masse request for long leave in protest against the alleged kidnapping of the inspector general of Sindh.

The sources in the PPP said the party had informed the PML-N members about some “inside information” regarding the Karachi incident and the inquiry report about which the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had no clue, expressing the hope that “the PML-N must be satisfied now”.

Despite jointly running a campaign against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government from the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Pakistan, the two parties have separately fielded candidates in GB.

Talking to Dawn over phone after the meeting, PPP vice-president Sherry Rehman said the leaders of the two parties had had “cordial discussions” and stressed the need for “strengthening the PDM”.

Asked if the two parties had discussed the Karachi incident inquiry report, Ms Rehman said the issue might have come under discussion during the one-on-one meeting but not in the meeting which took place afterwards.

Ms Rehman hoped that the meeting would help build confidence and trust between the two parties under the prevailing atmosphere.

The PPP leader said both the parties had expressed concern over the presence of the federal ministers in the region and inaction on the part of the GB Election Commission. She said the two parties had also discussed the strategy to foil possible attempts by the Centre to influence and rig the coming elections.

Ms Rehman said both the parties had decided to constitute special teams to monitor the polling process and point out irregularities and rigging on the polling day.

Replying to a question, she said since both the parties were also contesting the elections against each other, they would form separate teams to monitor the polling day activities. Later, the two parties through a joint declaration warned against any attempt to rig the GB polls. The two parties vowed to pursue the PDM agenda, saying they would continue their struggle till they sent the PTI government packing.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2020

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