LAHORE: One of the main opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on Saturday announced that it would take part in the Senate polls and any option of resignations from assemblies would be “weighed” after that.
The PML-N also said that the opposition parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would jointly contest the Senate elections and by-polls.
The PML-N cleared the ambiguity over the matter after its vice president Maryam Nawaz presided over a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board held at the Sharifs’ Model Town residence to finalise the names of the candidates for the by-election scheduled to be held on Feb 19.
The PML-N’s announcement has come in sharp contrast to PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s statement last week that the alliance would decide whether to take part in the Senate elections or not and about resignations from assemblies after Jan 31.
The PDM has given Jan 31 ultimatum to Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
Wants to jointly contest the polls with other opposition parties
Senior PML-N leader and former federal minister Khurram Dastagir, who attended the meeting, said the party would contest the Senate elections and a decision about resigning from the assemblies would be taken afterwards.
“In the meeting, we held preliminary discussion on the selection of candidates for the next month’s by-polls. We will announce our candidates soon,” he said.
When asked if the opposition had backtracked from its earlier position to resign from the assemblies before the Senate elections scheduled for March, Mr Dastagir said: “We will resign from assemblies but after Senate polls. We will go for it [resignations] when we think that after resigning from assemblies this parliament cannot function.”
But, he clarified that resignations were not the main issue. “Long march is the main thing and how we mobilise the public for this,” he said.
Another main component of the PDM, the Pakistan Peoples Party had earlier declared it was going to contest the Senate polls as it would not be wise to “leave the field open” for the PTI government.
According to a party insider, Maryam Nawaz and other hawkish members of the PML-N were not happy over the PDM’s decision to defer the option of resignations from assemblies. Before this decision, Ms Nawaz would say in opposition rallies that this government would not be able to function if 400 lawmakers resigned.
“Protest, be it in the form of rallies, long march or sit-in, appears to be the only option the PDM is left with,” he said.
PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal told reporters the field would not be left open for the government in the Senate elections.
“We will take part in the Senate polls. We don’t want the government to have a two-thirds majority in the Senate and enact laws of its choice. We will contest the Senate and by-polls along with other opposition parties in the PDM,” he said.
Mr Iqbal forewarned that if Prime Minister Imran Khan completed his term, nobody would be ready to become premier of the country after him because of “the destruction he (Imran) would cause to the country”.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021