PPP CEC asks its members to resign from PDM

Published April 12, 2021
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a press conference after the CEC meeting. — DawnNewsTV
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a press conference after the CEC meeting. — DawnNewsTV

The Central Executive Committee of the PPP has asked all the party members to resign from their positions in the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

Making the announcement at a press conference after the conclusion of the crucial CEC meeting on Monday, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said no party "should try and impose their will and dictation on any other political party".

He said the CEC had rejected the show-cause notice issued to the PPP by other PDM parties and "directed all its office-bearers in the PDM to submit their resignations from these offices with immediate effect in protest of the attitude, conduct and actions of other office-bearers of the PDM".

Editorial: The PPP and PML-N are paying the price for cutting the branch they were sitting on

According to Bilawal, the CEC maintained that resignations from the assemblies should be an "atom bomb, last resort" option. Resigning from the parliament had been a serious bone of contention between the PPP and other PDM parties, with the former opposing it and the latter favouring it.

"That is and will remain our stance, we think that this stance has proven to be correct, that we must not abandon parliament, the electoral battleground ... it has been vindicated," Bilawal said, adding that PDM had exposed the government by taking part in the recent by-polls.

The PPP leader said if his party had agreed with the view of the other PDM parties and boycotted the election then the PTI would have won those seats and "it would have been a sad day for Pakistan".

"We defeated the government in the Senate and defeated them on their pitch," Bilawal emphasised.

He said other PDM parties had never addressed the PPP's concerns regarding the "dangers" of abandoning the parliament when the government's majority is so "slim".

"We will not undermine the gains the PPP has achieved at the whims of another party. Those who wish to resign should do so but no one should try and impose their will and dictation on any other political party," he added, declaring that the PPP will continue on the path of "consistent and firm opposition of the government".

On Sunday, as the CEC meeting started, Bilawal tore apart the show-cause notice issued to it by the PDM in a clear message to the alliance that the future relied entirely on mutual respect.

The CEC was scheduled to conclude by the sunset on Sunday, but as discussions on multiple issues prolonged the sitting at Bilawal House, there was consensus among 50 party leaders attending the meeting from across the country to continue the session till Monday (today).

The PDM already suffered a blow last week when the Awami National Party quit it over its "hijacking by some member parties".

In his presser today, Bilawal stressed that both politics and politics of alliance were done with "respect and equality".

"The PPP CEC demands an unconditional apology to the ANP and the PPP for this obnoxious conduct. The PPP stands by the ANP in this regard and will not abandon them under any circumstances," he said.

He added that for opposition politics to succeed, there must be "working relationships" within opposition parties and that there was no concept of show-cause notices in democratic movements.

"The individual office-bearers responsible for this act may not be aware as they've never played a part in any democratic movement in the past but I would like to remind you that we've seen the movement for the restoration of democracy," he said, recalling that while there were many differences within the movement, no show-cause notices were issued.

Apparently referring to the actions of other PDM parties, Bilawal said no show-cause notice had been issued "when someone was given the permission to go abroad by circulation; when muk-muka (secret deal) was done with the PTI and GDA in Sindh; when muk-muka has been going on in Punjab with the PTI and [Chief Minister Usman] Buzdar for three years; when there was no implementation on the PDM action plan; [and] when there was violation of the PDM action plan".

He noted that it was written in the PDM action plan that the opposition parties would use "democratic and parliamentary tools" and the "weapon of no-confidence [motion] in Punjab and the Centre". "No show-cause notice was given when these democratic tools were not used," he said.

Earlier this month, the PDM had 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 decision was taken at a meeting of senators of five opposition parties, minus the PPP and the ANP. 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 were 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 had decided not to accept Gilani as the opposition leader and announced the formation of a separate group.

Last Monday, PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his capacity as the PDM secretary general issued show-cause notices to the PPP and ANP for nominating Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate “in violation of the unanimous decision” of the alliance.

'Anti-people deal'

Among other items on the CEC's agenda, Bilawal criticised the government's agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), terming it an "anti-people deal and against the interests of the public".

"This new [IMF] tranche's burden is on the common man and we condemn it and demand that Pakistan come out of this deal. It is a bad and wrong deal; it is not in the financial interests of the people of Pakistan," he said.

The PPP leader said the agreement's knock-on effect will be that the country's progress will be hampered. He regretted that the details of the deal had not been presented in the parliament or made public, and that the information was released through IMF documents.

"If you know beforehand what you have to do then what is the point of budget sessions?" he asked, addressing the government. "If you want to sit in closed rooms with the IMF then have our budget passed from there too."

Bilawal alleged that the government wanted to take away the State Bank of Pakistan's oversight through an ordinance under which the central bank would not be answerable to anyone, "only to the IMF".

"This will harm our economic sovereignty, it is a historic attack," he said, announcing that the PPP would oppose the ordinance when it was laid in the parliament and will also challenge it in the courts.

Bilawal said the CEC had also criticised the government's foreign policy decisions and actions regarding the Kashmir issue.

He said it was incumbent upon Pakistan to speak for the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir who were suffering under Indian rule, but "unfortunately the government has not fulfilled this responsibility".

"Everyone knew that the BJP's manifesto included the annexation of Kashmir, and then during the election campaign Imran Khan said 'if Modi wins then Kashmir will be solved'," Bilawal said. "It will be remembered that there was a prime minister who was so bad when it came to the Kashmir cause."

He termed the government's foreign policy as "confused and contradictory", saying it was "talking about talking to India", while its stated position was something else. "Imran Khan as minister for commerce says we will do trade [with India], then in the same week as prime minister, he says no we will not," he alleged.

"We will have to chase away this Imran; until he remains the prime minister we will sustain damage on all fronts," Bilawal said, adding that the CEC had decided that its Kashmir Action Committee would raise the issue itself.

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