Fazl discusses PDM meeting agenda with Shehbaz

Published April 25, 2021
Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif is greeted by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman in this file photo. — Javed Hussain
Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif is greeted by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman in this file photo. — Javed Hussain

LAHORE: Pakistan Dem­o­cratic Movement president Maulana Fazlur Rehman spoke to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president She­hbaz Sharif over the phone on Saturday and discussed the agenda of the PDM’s meeting likely to be held in Islamabad next week.

Congratulating the opposition leader on his release from jail after seven months, the Maulana appreciated him for braving, what he called, the political victimisation of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government.

The Maulana took Mr Sharif into confidence over the next PDM meeting. Mr Sharif inquired after the Maulana’s health. Both leaders expressed concern over the spike in coronavirus cases across the country.

Talking about the PDM, deposed premier Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz told reporters in her media talk at Jati Umra that the alliance’s struggle against the “selected” regime would continue.

“The PDM will come up with a new strategy after Ramazan. The masses’ support is with the PDM, as the government has become unnerved because of its movement during the last few months,” she said and added that the Pakistan Peoples Party may have disassociated itself from the PDM, but the PML-N had good relations with the fellow opposition party’s chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

Tareen group

While PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz has claimed that the disgruntled PTI lawmakers, led by sugar baron Jahangir Khan Tareen, are in contact with her party, it has emerged that the PML-N wants the “rebel” lawmakers to form a forward bloc before shaking hands with them.

“The PTI’s disgruntled lawmakers group is quite a large one. They are in contact with us and other parties. They are worried because now they have to go to their constituencies but cannot face the people because of what the Imran Khan government has done with the masses in terms of inflation, price hike, unemployment and destruction of the economy,” Ms Nawaz said in reply to a question whether the PML-N would plan a no-confidence motion at the Centre and in Punjab with the help of Tareen-led rebel PTI lawmakers, who are said to number over 40.

She was talking to journalists at her Jati Umra residence in Raiwind here on Saturday regarding the cancellation of her Karachi tour owing to the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases in the country. The PML-N firebrand leader had to travel to Karachi to participate in the ongoing campaign of her party candidate Miftah Ismail for the NA-249 by-election scheduled for next week.

Talking about “unrest” among the PTI ranks, Ms Nawaz remarked that it was just an “excuse” that Tareen was leading the rebel lawmakers. “In fact, the PTI lawmakers do not want to contest the next election on (PTI) tickets. They are not ready to own the incompetence of Imran Khan. They were brought into PTI under pressure from the selectors (establishment). Now, they want to quit the party,” she claimed.

When asked whether Mr Tareen had contacted her, she questioned: “Why would he contact me in the presence of Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif? If he needs to talk, he will have to contact them.”

To a question about her displeasure with the PPP, which is no longer part of the opposition alliance PDM, Ms Nawaz asserted that the PPP was not her target. “We had differences with the PPP over securing votes from the BAP (Balochistan Awami Party) in the Senate opposition leader election, but the PPP is not my target. I choose my targets carefully,” she stressed.

A lawmaker from the Jahangir Tareen camp told Dawn that they were waiting for a call from Prime Minister Imran Khan to see them in person over the Federal Investigation Agency probe against Mr Tareen in the sugar scam.

“We believe that Mr Tareen has been falsely implicated in this scam at the behest of a few around the premier. If we are not given justice in this matter we may consider other options and formation of a forward bloc cannot be ruled out at a later stage,” he maintained, adding that the disgruntled lawmakers — known as the JKT (Jahangir Khan Tareen) group — had been in contact with both the PML-N and PPP.

“The PML-N has hinted at shaking hands with us once we form a forward bloc in the National and Punjab assemblies,” the lawmaker claimed.

When PML-N lawmaker Samiullah Khan, who is close to Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, was asked to comment on the situation, he said his party had been in contact with the rebel MPs both in National and Punjab assemblies, but till the group formally formed a forward bloc, the PML-N would not consider any in-house change.

“We are closely watching the developments in this regard and will act accordingly,” Mr Khan said.

Earlier, Mr Tareen had cancelled an Iftar dinner -- planned in the honour of the disgruntled group -- after receiving a message from Islamabad that PM Khan would soon meet them and listen to their grievances. Mr Tareen and his son Ali are on interim bail till May 3 in money laundering and fraud cases.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2021

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