• Abbasi says Fazl gave go-ahead for move
• Farhatullah Babar questions legitimacy of notice
• Pervez says PML-N got senators elected from Punjab with PTI, PML-Q support
• Shazia asks when notice will be issued over PTI-JUI-F alliance in Sindh

ISLAMABAD: Senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his capacity as Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) secretary general issued show-cause notice to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) on Monday for nominating Yousuf Raza Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate “in violation of the unanimous decision” of the alliance.

The PPP, however, questioned the authority and the procedure adopted for the issuance of the notice and alleged that “the move is not only aimed at damaging the PPP, but finding an excuse to formally abolish the opposition’s alliance which received big successes against the government during the recent by-polls and the Senate elections”.

The two parties have been asked to give their response within seven days of the receipt of the notice.

Interestingly, both the PPP and the PML-N have been accusing each other of damaging the opposition’s unity with the clandestine support of the establishment.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Abbasi said he issued the notice after receiving a go-ahead from PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who has suspended his political activities for the past few days due to some health issues.

“The decision to send the notice has been made by the PDM president when I informed him about the recommendations of five parliamentary parties (of the PDM). The leaders of these five parties during a recent meeting were of the opinion that Maulana Sahib should seek an explanation (from these two parties) as to why they have created a division in the Senate and why they have committed a violation,” said Mr Abbasi when asked as to where the decision to issue the notice had been made.

Mr Abbasi said the notice was issued after the Maulana during a meeting with him in Islamabad agreed to the recommendations of the five parties. He said the PDM president had the right to seek a reply from any component party if it committed a violation of the agreed decision.

“We have issued the notice under the country’s constitution which bars political parties from collaborating and establishing contact with the establishment and causing defections in the parties,” he said when asked about the PPP’s question that under which rules the notice had been issued.

The PML-N stalwart admitted that there was no constitution or specific rules under which the PDM was functioning, but all the leaders were “politically matured” and they understood everything. He said it was on the recommendations of the eight parties in the alliance that they had sent the notice asking them to simply reply as to “why have you done it?”

Asked if the PPP and the ANP did not respond to the notice, he said then future course of action would be decided by the PDM in its meeting. He said the PPP could also respond to the points in the PDM meeting, but “it will be of no use and it will be better for the two parties to give written replies to the notice.”

Mr Abbasi said the notice had been sent to the leaders of the two parties on WhatsApp and these would also be physically handed over to the leaders of the party during the parliament session.

Last week, the PDM decided to part ways with the PPP and ANP, and form a new alliance of five opposition parties having 27 members in the Senate. The decisions were taken at a meeting of senators of five opposition parties, minus the PPP and the ANP, held on Friday. The five parties were namely the PML-N, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP) and Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal).

They are also angry over the PPP’s move to get the slot of the Senate opposition leader with the support of the independent senators known to be affiliated with Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), a party considered to be created by the establishment only weeks before the 2018 general elections and which is a partner with the PTI in the ruling coalition.

The opposition group headed by the PML-N comprises 27 senators belonging to five component parties of the PDM and it had decided not to accept Mr Gilani as the opposition leader and announced formation of a separate group.

Earlier, speaking at a news conference, Mr Abbasi said if it was true that the treasury members had joined the opposition benches then they should immediately move a no confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and get Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani elected for the office for which the PDM had an agreement.

When contacted, PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar said that by sending the notice, the PML-N and other parties had in fact caused more damage to the PDM.

Mr Babar said since Maulana Fazl had suspended his activities, then the question arose as to who had presided over the PDM meeting in which the decision to issue the notice was made. He was of the view that since Raja Pervez Ashraf was the senior vice-president of the PDM then the meeting should have been presided over by him.

The PPP secretary general said the PDM was not an electoral alliance and it had not come into existence under any specific rules and regulations. He said the PDM was actually a “grouping” of some parties for a limited and specific objective.

“Can one component party (of the alliance) can formally issue notice or seek explanation from the other party by deviating from the real objective for which the alliance has been formed?” he asked, while questioning the legitimacy of the notice.

Mr Babar said the PDM had not been constituted to get the opposition leader’s office. He said the matter would soon be discussed in the party.

Asked as to why the PPP did not consider moving a no-trust motion against the Senate chairman if they had the support of 57 senators on the opposition benches, Mr Babar said it was up to the PDM to make such a decision.

“We believe the PDM should consider this proposal. Of course, it is a viable option. We have been proposing this for long that we should bring no-confidence motions in the National Assembly, Senate and the Punjab Assembly,” he said, adding: “Let the PDM parties sit together and think about it”.

Similarly, PPP MNA and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf while talking to Dawn also expressed his surprise over the issuance of notice, and alleged that the PML-N and the JUI-F were not willing to hold the long march against the government and that was why they had linked the resignations with the long march, knowing that the PPP would never opt for it at this stage.

Mr Ashraf said when the PML-N got its senators elected unopposed from Punjab after having some understanding with the PTI and the PML-Q, the PPP did not make it an issue for the sake of opposition’s unity.

PPP secretary information Shazia Atta Marri asked when show-cause notice would be issued over the alliance of the PTI and the JUI-F in Sindh. She alleged that the PML-N had helped the establishment and the government by cancelling the opposition’s long march.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2021

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