• Peoples Party asks office-bearers of alliance to issue apology
• Maryam says Fazl to have final word on PDM’s future
• Haideri calls PPP decision ‘blessing in disguise’

KARACHI: As member parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) continued to level serious allegations against each other amid the show-cause notice controversy, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s central executive committee after two-day deliberations on Monday decided to quit the alliance and demanded an ‘unconditional apology’ from office-bearers of the alliance for their ‘obnoxious conduct’.

While announcing the decision at a press conference at Bilawal House, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said: “We believe in politics with mutual respect and trust. The same ideology we follow within the alliance politics. The PPP CEC demands unconditional apology to ANP [Awami National Party] and PPP for this obnoxious conduct. The PPP stands by ANP in this regard and we will not abandon them under any circumstances.”

JUI-F leader Maulana Ghafoor Haidri called the PPP move ‘political suicide’, ‘blessing in disguise for PDM’ and kind of support to the PTI government, while PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz insisted the opposition alliance was still intact and committed to a big cause saying that JUI-F and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman would have a final word on its fate after the PPP’s response.

The ANP earlier alleging that the PDM had been ‘hijacked by some of its member parties’ had already parted ways with the group after receiving a ‘show-cause notice’ from alliance’s general secretary who is also senior vice president of the PML-N Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

When Ms Nawaz was asked outside the Lahore High Court about the future of PDM after the decision of the PPP — one of the two major opposition parties in the alliance — over the show-cause controversy, the PML-N leader said the decision to send the “show-cause notice” to the PPP and ANP was a collective move of the PDM and not of her party. However, Mr Abbasi of the PML-N in a talk show on Geo News on Monday claimed it was not a show-cause notice but only a move to seek clarification from the ANP and PPP. He also declared that no one would issue an apology to the PPP.

Flanked by senior party leaders at the Bilawal House Media Cell, the PPP chairman at the presser said: “It was me who had set up the PDM.” After the party’s CEC meeting, all its office-bearers in PDM were asked to submit their resignations from those offices with immediate effect in “protest to the attitude conduct and actions of other office-bearers within the PDM”.

He was of the opinion that with this attitude, the PDM had “very limited and narrow chances to move forward”.

Formed in September 2020 with much media fanfare and resolve to give tough time to Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government under a united platform, the PDM suffered setbacks one after another within a week. The cracks started appearing in the alliance over the proposed resignation from the assemblies and deepened when some parties of the PDM decided to issue ‘show-cause notices’ to the PPP and ANP after the Senate elections.

The decision to quit the alliance came after a two-day central executive committee meeting of the PPP, which was attended by its more than 50 leaders from across the country.

Responding to the JUI-F’s allegation about kind of support to the PTI government, Mr Bhutto-Zardari at the presser questioned the PDM leadership why there was no show-cause notice issued when there was a “connivance of a PDM party with PTI in Sindh? Why was there no show-cause notice when there has been connivance going on in Punjab with the Buzdar government? Why there was no show-cause notice when the agreed action plan of the PDM had not been followed.

“Until there’s no apology to the ANP and PPP, there are very narrow and slim chances for this alliance to move forward,” he reiterated.

The PPP chairman also vowed to challenge an ordinance to grant autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) aimed at targeting inflation rather than economic growth, calling it an International Monetary Fund (IMF) agenda. He said the government move would make the SBP unaccountable to the people of Pakistan through the parliament or the judiciary as it would only follow the dictates of the IMF.

“The PTI government wanted to make economic decisions through ordinances and was handing over the country’s institutions to the IMF,” he said.

“If the SBP followed the IMF policy, it would be an attack on the economic sovereignty of the country, so the PPP would challenge the ordinance in court. The economic crisis that the people of Pakistan are facing is due to the government of Imran Khan, which has plunged us into a tsunami of inflation.”

He also touched upon the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior’s approval of a bill to make amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 to take action against those who intentionally ridicule armed forces.

“The respect is earned, not imposed,” he said.

“There are already laws on this subject. We would fight this law. We would not accept this. You can’t impose things of your choice on the people and the PPP would play its role as opposition in this regard.”

He said he wanted to keep working relationship with all parties. “I very much respect Maulana Fazal ur Rahman. I very much respect Maryam Nawaz. I want to keep working relationships with all parties. Because working relationships are not a choice. It’s a responsibility. We are bound to raise voice as opposition for the people of this country. This is our duty.”

In reply to a question about the PML-N, the PPP chairman said: “You can’t do opposition to opposition parties.

“Now the N League has to decide whether they want opposition to Imran Khan and establishment or they want opposition to Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.”

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021

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