AZAM Nazeer Tarar
AZAM Nazeer Tarar

ISLAMABAD: Besides having differences over the resignation issue, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are also at loggerheads over the latter’s decision to nominate Azam Nazeer Tarar for the office of opposition leader in the Senate.

Sources said the PPP had already formally lodged its protest with the PML-N leadership at the highest level over Mr Tarar’s nomination because of his being a lawyer for the accused in the Benazir Bhutto murder case.

A source in the PPP told Dawn that former president Asif Ali Zardari had conveyed his reservations to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif over the move a day before the meeting of the heads of the component parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Islamabad.

The sources said that Mr Zardari had also talked to former finance minister Ishaq Dar over the issue and expressed his dismay over the PML-N’s decision.

According to the PPP leader, this controversial nomination had irritated Mr Zardari and, perhaps, this was the main reason of his outburst against the PML-N in the PDM’s meeting on Tuesday.

PPP protested with PML-N as Azam Tarar is a lawyer for accused cops in Benazir assassination case

PML-N vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, speaking at a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, confirmed that the party had nominated Mr Tarar for the office of the opposition leader in the Senate as per an agreement reached among PDM parties.

Mr Tarar has been elected senator for the first time on a seat reserved for technocrats and he was among the 11 senators who had been elected unopposed from Punjab. He is the lawyer for the accused police officers in the Benazir murder case.

Another PPP leader claimed that in the meeting of a PDM committee it had been decided that the slot of the leader of the opposition would go to the PML-N only if Mr Gilani succeeded in the Senate chairman’s election. He said that being the largest party on opposition benches in the Senate, it was the right of the PPP to have the opposition leader’s office.

Moreover, the PPP leader said, the present situation demanded that a person having parliamentary experience should be the opposition leader.

“Keeping the opposition united under the prevailing tense situation is a difficult task and it requires political and parliamentary experience, which Mr Tarar does not have at all,” he said.

At present, the PPP has 21 senators on opposition benches whereas the PML-N with 17 members is the second largest party in the upper house. Previously, Raja Zafarul Haq was the leader of the opposition, but this time he had not contested the Senate elections.

Announcing the decision to nominate Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri as the joint opposition candidates for the top Senate offices on March 8, the PDM’s information secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain had declared that it had been decided that the PML-N would retain the key office of the leader of the opposition in the new upper house of parliament.

The announcement was made by Mr Hussain in the presence of other PDM leaders, including Raja Pervez Ashraf of PPP.

Talking to Dawn, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was the head of the committee which had nominated the PDM candidates, had claimed that the decision to give the office of the opposition leader to the PML-N was unanimous and it had nothing to do with the election of Mr Gilani as the Senate chairman.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2021

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