LAHORE: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called on PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz at her Jati Umra residence on Friday and declared that the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would not create such a situation through its protest drive that the ‘third force’ could intervene and take advantage of it.
At a joint media talk after the meeting, Ms Nawaz claimed that some ministers had “contacted the PML-N and offered a dialogue but I rejected it outright”.
“We are experienced enough and playing our cards carefully. We will not let such a situation arise in the wake of the PDM’s protest campaign that the third force takes advantage of it,” Mr Bhutto-Zaradri said in reply to a question about possible intervention by military if the country plunged into crises because of the PDM’s protest against the PTI government.
Maryam claims ministers approaching PML-N for dialogue
Both Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Ms Nawaz also discussed the opposition’s strategy regarding the PDM’s much-hyped rally on Sunday (tomorrow) at the Minar-i-Pakistan and resignations of opposition lawmakers.
However, there has been no change of PPP’s stance over resigning from the National and Sindh assemblies as Mr Bhutto-Zardari reportedly told Ms Nawaz that his party’s central executive committee (CEC) would have a final say in it.
“Whether we have to sacrifice the Sindh government and come out of the National Assembly or not, I am taking this matter to the party’s CEC for consultation so that the selected and his facilitators should be sent home,” he said.
When asked to name the selectors, he said he was not taking the name of the selectors or the establishment because “we are maintaining their dignity and I ask the establishment to stop interfering in politics”.
When asked since there had been a consensus among all 11 parties of the PDM in the Dec 8 meeting regarding resignations (from national and provincial assemblies), why the PPP was backtracking, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said: “There will be no division in the PDM on the issue of resignations. I am receiving resignations of my party members in bulk.”
Taking about Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said: “Imran should take stock of the situation and resign without further delay. Imran should accept the decision of the masses and step down.” He claimed that the PDM’s march on Islamabad would be the biggest in the country’s history.
According to a source, the PDM has planned a long march at the end of February. “The decision on the resignation issue will also be finalised in February,” he said.
Mt Bhutto-Zardari was all praise for his younger sister Aseefa Bhutto, saying that she put up a great show in Multan rally. “I warn the selectors/facilitators that whatever they want to do with us they should remember that behind us is Aseefa Bibi and I drive power from my sister,” he said and declined to comment on the change of portfolio in the ministry of Sheikh Rashid who has been given interior ministry. “Rana Sanaullah is good at commenting on Satan of Rawalpindi,” he commented.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Lahore’s Dec 13 rally would be historic and after that second phase of the PDM movement would begin and that would be decisive.
Maryam Nawaz said: “For the last few days the senior leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), including ministers, have been contacting the PML-N for talks. It is an ironic fact that Imran Khan who for the last two-and-a-half-year had been saying that he would not give NRO is now seeking it for himself (from the PDM). There will be no talks with the PTI government that had been formed through a stolen mandate. I have been against holding talks with this government from day one,” she declared and asked Imran Khan to step down forthwith.
She said the government had been unnerved ahead of Lahore rally. “I want to make it clear that the PDM’s public meeting will be held at Minar-i-Pakistan at any cost.”
The Punjab government has refused to give permission to the PDM to hold the rally at Minar-i-Pakistan citing rise in Covid-19 cases.
Lahore police on Friday registered seven FIRs against several PML-N workers for holding corner meetings in the city on Thursday in violation of Covid-19 standard operating procedures. The police also booked the owners of a restaurant at Lakhshmi Chowk that offered food (mutton karahi) to Maryam Nawaz and others during her visit there on Thursday as part of her rally.
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2020