ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has convened a meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) in Karachi on April 11 to discuss its response to the “show-cause notice” sent to it by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leadership and devise its future line of action in the wake of the party’s possible and formal exit from the opposition alliance as the war of words between the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) continued.
The announcement regarding the CEC meeting was made by PPP secretary general Nayyar Bokhari on Wednesday, a day after the Awami National Party (ANP) formally left the alliance in protest against the serving of a notice to it by PDM secretary general and senior vice-president of the PML-N Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for extending support to PPP’s Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani for the office of the opposition leader in the Senate in alleged violation of the PDM’s decision.
The PPP’s CEC was earlier scheduled to meet on April 5 on one-point agenda to discuss the proposal of nine PDM component parties regarding en masse resignations from the assemblies, but under the changed circumstances, the party leaders are unlikely to discuss the option as a number of PPP leaders have already categorically stated that they will not resign from the assemblies, come what may.
War of words between PPP, PML-N leaders continues
PPP’s information secretary and MNA Shazia Marri in a statement on Wednesday taunted the PML-N and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) for backtracking from their earlier announcement regarding en masse resignations and asked the leadership of the two parties as to when they would resign from the assemblies.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that if the PPP does not resign, even then the JUI-F and the PML-N will tender their resignations. Now the PML-N and the JUI-F should tell us when they are going to resign,” she asked
Ms Marri then directly alleged that “the PML-N, in connivance with the JUI-F, has created cracks in the PDM for their own petty interests.”
The MNA also criticised the JUI-F for forming an alliance with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) against the PPP in Larkana, asking “when the show-cause notice will be issued on the alliance of the JUI-F and the PTI in Larkana?”
Similarly, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said that her party was not answerable to anyone but the people of Pakistan and the party workers. She also questioned the legitimacy of the notices issued to the PPP and the ANP. She said the PDM did not have a constitution and, therefore, notices could not be issued to any component party of the alliance.
“It is up to our CEC to decide will we take it forward. We prefer to have a dialogue in an amicable environment where everyone is treated equally. Democracy cannot thrive in an environment where people are being dictated on what to do,” Ms Rehman said, adding that the opposition leader in Senate was decided on the basis of the PPP’s majority in the house and no one could deny this.
Ms Rehman said that the PPP chairman was one of the founders of the PDM and “we all want to remove the selected government”.
In reply to criticism on the party by other PDM component parties, she said: “We have always been ready for the long march and were expecting to discuss the nuts and bolts of the march because we were taking it very seriously. But instead, we were suddenly asked to resign from assemblies where we have been elected to protect rights of vulnerable people, provinces and the strength of the federation.”
She said the PPP had withdrawn its candidates in the Senate election in Punjab where the PML-N was in a majority “yet we never publicly chargesheeted them on what happened in Punjab with so many unopposed senators coming in”.
Ms Rehman was of the view that the target of the opposition parties should be “the selected government, and not each other”. She said the PPP was in touch with all PDM parties and it would continue “to keep our doors open for reasonable discussion, but we will not accept the dictation from anyone”.
She said the government was in a vulnerable position and the opposition had managed to defeat it in the by-elections as well as in the National Assembly.
“The united PDM has the power to send this government home. We all need to be rational and think about the future of our country. If they don’t want to do that, we certainly will fight on”, she went on saying.
Another PPP leader and former deputy speaker Faisal Karim Kundi said that act of the PTI MNAs and MPAs to accompany Jahangir Tareen in the court showed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had lost the confidence of his party’s members and the PPP’s strategy of bringing a no-confidence motion was correct but the PML-N preferred to protect Imran Khan’s government.
Mr Kundi alleged that the PML-N intentionally demanded resignations so that the PDM could be divided and the government be saved.
“On the one hand, people are accusing PPP of striking a deal and being the reason for the appearance of cracks in the PDM, and on the other the same people are living a comfortable life in London,” he said in an apparent reference to PML-N’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
PML-N’s secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, however, rejected the PPP and the ANP’s claim that the alliance had no powers to issue the notices.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Iqbal said only those parties were now in the PDM which implemented the alliance’s decisions. He regretted the ANP’s decision to part ways with the PDM. He, however, thanked the ANP for extending support to the party’s candidate Miftah Ismail in the upcoming by-elections on a National Assembly seat in NA-249 in Karachi.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021