ISLAMABAD: Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman has asked the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) to “reconsider” their decision of quitting the opposition’s alliance and declared that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) will continue its struggle to achieve its objectives even if the two parties do not return to its fold.
“They (PPP and ANP) still have an opportunity to review their decisions and approach the PDM. We can remove their grievances when we will sit together,” said the Maulana while talking to reporters after presiding over the first meeting of the alliance after withdrawal of PPP and ANP from the alliance here on Tuesday.
After the decisions of the PPP and ANP to leave the opposition’s alliance, the PDM has now been reduced to an eight-party alliance. However, Tuesday’s meeting was attended by the leaders of five parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the National Party and Qaumi Watan Party.
The Maulana, who resumed his political activities after nearly two weeks, termed the reaction of the two parties to the show-cause notices issued to them for allegedly violating the PDM’s unanimous decision “immature and not in keeping with their political stature and experience”.
The JUI-F chief, who is also the president of the PDM, said the PPP and ANP should not have made the show-cause notices an issue of “self-respect” and they should have responded to the notices in a “dignified manner”. The two parties, he said, could have called for convening a meeting of the heads of the PDM or the steering committee to explain their viewpoint and resolve the matter. However, he regretted, the PPP and ANP chose to respond to the notices through the media.
Says opposition alliance will continue its struggle even if the two parties do not return to its fold
“It was through the media that we came to know about the statements of the leaders of the two parties questioning the legitimacy of the notices and tearing up of the notice,” said the Maulana in response to the reports that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during the two-day meeting of his party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) in Karachi had torn apart the show-cause notice, thus showing the party’s clear intentions that it was no more interested to rejoin the alliance.
The ANP had already announced on April 5 that it was withdrawing from the PDM in protest over issuance of the show-cause notice to it for supporting Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani’s candidature for the office of the opposition leader in the Senate.
Speaking at a news conference in Peshawar, ANP’s Ameer Haider Hoti had also announced that the party members had resigned from the PDM offices.
The PPP also formally announced its decision to part ways with the PDM and sent resignations of those who were holding the PDM offices, including its vice-president Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Confirming that he had received the resignations of the PPP and ANP leaders, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said he had not accepted them yet as he wanted to give another chance to both the parties.
“Sadly, they have formally announced their decision to part ways with the PDM. The PPP and ANP members have already sent their resignations to me, but we are still trying and asking them to review their decision,” he said, adding that “the PDM is ready to hear you.”
“I want to say it in categorical terms that the PDM is a very serious forum. It is an alliance that was established to achieve objectives of serious nature at the national level and not for fighting over some offices,” said the Maulana, adding that for them, the future of democracy and politics in Pakistan is more important. He said that at a time when Pakistan was “economically sinking” and the people of the country were suffering and facing miseries, they would not make decisions on the basis of personal benefits or losses.
The Maulana refused to comment on the demand made by Mr Bhutto-Zardari that the PDM leaders should tender an apology to PPP and ANP for sending the notices.
“I don’t consider this question worth answering,” said the Maulana when a reporter sought his comment on the PPP chairman’s demand.
“We are actually stopping them from doing such things. They should show maturity and contact the PDM. We are waiting,” he said.
Responding to a question about the Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s allegations that some PDM parties were trying to blackmail his party, the Maulana taunted the young PPP chairman over his inexperience in politics by saying: “This is the difference between the age of 35 years and 70 years.”
Saying that he was not expecting that the PPP would go to an extent of seeking the support of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) for the Senate opposition leader, the Maulana said that the PPP had committed an “excess” with Mr Gilani and damaged him politically.
Justifying the act of sending notices to PPP and ANP, the PDM chief said it was his right to seek an explanation from the parties for violating the PDM’s decisions.
Replying to another question, the Maulana said the nation would be with the PDM, when it would make “big decisions” after the month of Ramazan.
The PDM chief asked PPP and PML-N leaders to refrain from issuing statements against each other.
However, ignoring the Maulana’s call, PPP’s information secretary Faisal Karim Kundi in a video message said if the Maulana wanted reconciliation then he should tell them as to “who wanted to club the resignations with the long march and who is responsible for not complying with the PDM’s action plan”.
Mr Kundi, who is also a direct political rival of the Maulana, alleged that the JUI-F chief had usurped the opposition leader’s position in the 2002 National Assembly despite the fact that the majority in the opposition was of the PPP. He said the Maulana should not turn a political alliance of PDM into a political party, saying the rules of a political party cannot be rules for the political alliance.
Mr Kundi said it was ironic that the Maulana was unaware that the show-cause notices to PPP and ANP were leaked to the media and the public. He said the majority party had the right to bring its own member as the opposition leader in the National Assembly and the Senate.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2021