LAHORE: The Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) has decided to support the candidature of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani for the opposition leader in the Senate, agreeing to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s contention that the majority party has the right to the slot.
After developing differences with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on the resignations and leader of the opposition issues in the Senate, Mr Bhutto-Zardari not only won JI’s support for the Senate slot but also found many other common grounds to work with the party: electoral reforms, accountability, independence of the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Kashmir cause.
After his maiden visit to the JI headquarters, addressing a joint press conference with emir Sirajul Haq, Mr Bhutto-Zardari hoped that though it was his first visit, it would certainly not be last. Dialogue is necessary among parties and the PPP has a lot to learn from the JI’s political experience spread over many decades of history.
He took the occasion to taunt Maryam Nawaz – hinting at thewidening divide that now exists between both parties and personalities – saying that “the blood that runs in his veins can never be that of a “selected,” it was rather a Lahore family that was once selected”. He was responding to a tweet by Maryam Nawaz a few days ago in which she had said “maybe another selected being anointed”.
The widening of the schism between both parties also became clearer when Bilawal insisted that the party enjoying a majority in the Senate has the right to nominate “leader of the opposition”. That is what the parliamentary tradition is and must be respected. “To us, Gilani has won the senate (chairman) election and it would soon be formalized (through court).
Continuing settling a verbal score with the PML-N, he also said that “accountability of the generals may bea new-found slogan for Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N, but this has been the demand of the PPP leadership for three generations”.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari also expressed regrets that the long march has been delayed. “After all, whose idea was it to link long march with the resignations? If that is the case, why was it not taken up when the march was originally planned? The PPP had made all the preparations for the long march and was ready for it.”
Balancing his earlier hardstand, Mr Bhutto-Zardari also said that the divisions in the opposition would benefit (Prime Minister) Imran Khan. “If someone has to reconsider his opinion and decision, it must be the one insisting on wrong decisions. The situation is ripe for change both in the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly.”
Earlier, Mr Haq said political parties should continue talking to each other because only then solutions to “common man’s problems can be found, which the PTI in its 1,100 days rule has multiplied many folds.”
The PTI has proven that it wants a compliant judiciary, a subordinate election commission, and very subservient media.
“All these streaks not onlyreflect dictatorial mindset but are also suicidal for democracy. The opposition parties must join hands to resist them. They should find ways for legal and financial autonomy of these institutions because they are necessary for functioning democracy and welfare of common man.”
Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2021