The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Monday named PPP's Yousuf Raza Gilani as the joint opposition candidate for the Senate chairman election scheduled for later this week.
The decision was announced by the PDM's chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman after an hours-long meeting in Islamabad attended by leaders of the 10-member alliance. PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and PPP's Asif Ali Zardari addressed the gathering via video link.
Speaking at the press conference, Rehman said that the candidates for the posts of Senate deputy chairperson and leader of the opposition would be decided by a committee, headed by former premier and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The committee will hold its first meeting tomorrow to deliberate on possible candidates.
The PDM chief also spoke about the incidents of violence outside Parliament House on Saturday, where PML-N leaders alleged they were manhandled by PTI workers. "PTI goons attacked them," said Rehman, adding that not only were PML-N leaders insulted and harassed, the "goons even disrespected Marriyum Aurangzeb".
"This is the culture the PTI is inculcating among its workers," he lamented.
Rehman said the meeting reaffirmed the PDM plan to stage a long march against the government, adding that caravans will set out for the capital "from all corners of the country on March 26".
"[The meeting] appealed to the entire nation to play their role to remove this undemocratic and unconstitutional government," he said.
By March 30, he said, the rallies will start to reach their destination, while the strategy regarding "the stay of the long march" in Islamabad will be decided in a meeting of the PDM leadership to be held on March 15.
Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan's vote of confidence, Rehman said the "fake prime minister" had tried to receive the trust vote in a National Assembly session on Saturday, but that according to Article 91(7) of the Constitution, this session could only be called by the president. "Here the fake prime minister sent a summary to summon the session even though there is no mention of the prime minister [sending the] summary in the Constitution," he added.
"This vote of confidence has no constitutional, institutional and moral worth," the PDM chief claimed.
He said the PDM meeting reviewed in detail Senate's March 3 elections and "there are proofs of the fact that intelligence agencies illegally tried to influence voters through threats and inducements in violation of the ECP's code of conduct."
"The meeting condemned the inference of intelligence agencies and warned that if the same behaviour is seen during the election for the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, then the PDM will be forced to bring all the facts before the public," he added.
He termed as "most foolish" the PTI decision to challenge Gilani's victory on the Senate seat in the Election Commission of Pakistan. "If the election was wrong, why did you bother to send the summary to get the vote of confidence? You could have filed the claim at that time that you don't accept this election. The verdict came against you and you were forced to say to the president that 'I want to take the trust vote, call the [NA] session," he said, addressing Imran.
"Such kind of actions without any basis cannot be accepted at any cost," Rehman added. "Such vile tactics cannot stop the way of democracy."
Answering a question, the PDM chief denied the impression of differences within the opposition over selecting a candidate for the Senate deputy chairman, saying there had been no prior consultation unlike Gilani's name. PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari noted that the government too had not named a candidate for the post as yet.
Former prime minister Gilani was elected as a senator in last week's Senate elections after beating PTI's Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on a general seat from Islamabad, in an upset for the PTI-led ruling coalition.
Rejected votes played a significant role in the victory of Gilani — the opposition's joint candidate for the seat — who secured 169 votes as against 164 bagged by Shaikh, with the number of rejected votes exceeding the margin of victory.
Following the elections, the opposition parties have managed to retain their majority in the upper house of parliament and are now hopeful of getting the top offices of chairman and deputy chairman for which elections through secret balloting will be held on March 12.
Meanwhile, the PTI has named Sadiq Sanjrani, the current Senate chairman, as its candidate for the upcoming chairman election.