PPP dangles threat of resignations, keeps its options open

Published December 30, 2020
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a press conference in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a press conference in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV

• Party will contest by-polls, Senate elections
• Bilawal rules out talks until PM steps down

KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is keeping all its options open as it has decided to collect resignations of its parliamentarians by Dec 31 in line with the decision of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and at the same time contest coming by-elections and Senate polls.

However, it ruled out any possibility of a dialogue with the government before Prime Minister Imran Khan steps down.

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This announcement came on Tuesday after an hours-long meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) co-chaired by its chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, where resignations from parliament topped the agenda, consuming most of the time of the discussion.

Leaders of the party from different parts of the country, however, agreed to a certain extent with the decision of the 11-party alliance but at the same time set their target for coming political challenges.

“The CEC endorses the PDM decision to collect resignations of parliamentarians by Dec 31,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari told a press conference after the meeting. “The CEC is of the opinion that we must challenge the puppet, selected and illegitimate government at every forum. We must challenge it in the streets, in the courts, in the shape of no-confidence motions in the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly. Whether it’s by-polls or Senate elections we need to challenge this government. The CEC believes that if we (joint opposition) take up the challenge of Senate elections collectively we can make a better impact and achieve larger success.”

Replying to a question about effectiveness of resignations when the PPP had decided to contest by-polls and Senate elections, he justified the decision saying that the party had endorsed all decisions made by the PDM and it was not giving any concession to any side nor showing any flexibility towards the government.

The PPP leader said he would take up the CEC decisions before the PDM leadership and discuss a further plan of the opposition’s movement against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government.

An interesting point came during the PPP chairman’s presser when he was asked about the details of the discussion and opinions of the party leaders at the CEC meeting and he avoided to answer in detail.

Asked about the “strong opinion” within the PPP for return of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif to the country, Mr Bhutto-Zardari preferred to move on to the next question.

“The freedom of expression and every person’s right to secrecy of his opinion don’t allow me to share more but I would neither endorse your information nor deny it,” he said.

The PPP chairman categorically denied any possibility of a dialogue with the government just a couple of days after his father Asif Zardari called for a change in the policy of the opposition for success of its movement.

“We can definitely talk with the government,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said to a question about the prospects of a dialogue between the opposition and the government in the context of recent remarks made by Mr Zardari. “But first the PM should resign. There should be a level playing field before any dialogue. There’s no harm in talks but he [PM Imran Khan] needs to resign before any such initiative.”

He denied that the PPP’s participation in the Senate polls would strengthen the PTI government that would allow PM Khan to complete his five-year tenure, and weaken the PDM movement which wanted his ouster within shortest possible time.

“No, I don’t think this government is going to become stronger because of this,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “It’s there only because illegitimate support which it enjoys. The day the establishment stops its intervention, this government would fall. How is it possible that MQM [Muutahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan] is supporting the government which has just endorsed the census? And how is it possible that parties in Balochistan are standing with this government despite all exploitation? It’s only because they are forced to do so.”

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2020

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