ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has asked the component parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to air their “grievances” over the nomination of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate at the next meeting of the alliance, saying that no member party can be removed from the PDM merely on the wishes of another party.
Talking to Dawn on Saturday, PPP secretary general Nayyar Bokhari said the PDM was an alliance of 10 parties and no party had any right to take unilateral decisions.
Mr Bokhari said it had been agreed in the declaration issued after the multi-party conference (MPC) of opposition parties in Islamabad in September that all the parties would be bound to follow only those decisions that would be taken unanimously at the PDM forum.
Saying that his party would present its viewpoint on the issue of leader of the opposition in Senate during the meeting of heads of PDM parties, the PPP secretary general said the opposition alliance had been constituted on the initiative of the PPP during the MPC hosted by the party and, therefore, the PPP was bound to follow and implement the decisions taken at the forum.
Asks PML-N to present grievances before alliance’s leadership; PPP to hold CEC meeting on April 5
In response to a question, Mr Bokhari said the meeting of his party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), which was earlier scheduled to be held in Rawalpindi after its public meeting on the occasion of death anniversary of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, would now be held in Karachi on April 5 after cancellation of the event due to surge in Covid-19 cases.
The CEC had been called to discuss the proposal of nine PDM parties to submit en masse resignations from the assemblies at the time of start of a march on Islamabad. However, the alliance suffered a setback on March 16 when its leadership announced postponement of their long march due to differences over the issue of en masse resignations.
Talking briefly to media personnel after presiding over a nearly five-hour-long meeting of the heads of component parties of the PDM, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had stated that the PPP had sought more time to reconsider its position on the issue and till the time the PPP would come back after a discussion in its CEC, the long march stood “postponed”. The Maulana had disclosed that nine parties were in favour of resigning from the assemblies during the long march, but only the PPP had some “reservations over this thinking”.
When the differences over the resignation issue were still persisting, the crisis deepened after both the PPP and the PML-N laid claim to the office of leader of the opposition in the Senate. And after the recent nomination of Mr Gilani as the opposition leader with the covert support of the government, the PPP and the PML-N, the two arch-rivals of the past, have now started openly blaming each other for “stabbing” the alliance in the back.
In a statement on Saturday, PPP’s deputy information secretary and Senator Palwasha Khan said the PPP was the largest opposition party in the Senate and the position of the opposition leader was its democratic right. “If someone does not recognise this right, then it is not a stance based on democratic principles,” she said in the statement issued hours after a news conference by PML-N’s vice president Maryam Nawaz in Lahore in which she had lashed out at the PPP for getting the opposition leader’s office with the support of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and “at the cost of PDM’s unity”.
Ms Khan said issuing statements against the PPP leadership was like “appeasing the anti-democratic forces”. She said the PPP and its workers had “made the most sacrifices for democracy in the country” and no one could teach them about democracy.
Referring to the unopposed election of five PML-N senators from Punjab in the recent Senate elections, Ms Khan asked as to why the senators in Punjab were decided upon without consultations with the opposition parties. She also asked why the PML-N wanted to strengthen the Punjab government under Usman Buzdar. She said the PML-N must explain whether its senators from Punjab were elected under a deal with the rulers or the party had some fear of contesting the Senate elections in the Punjab Assembly.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2021