Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Secretary General Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday categorically stated that there was no place for the PPP within the opposition alliance until it restored the trust it had betrayed.
Speaking to the media in Islamabad, the PML-N leader said that PDM had not extended an invitation to the PPP. "PDM Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has clearly stated that [the PPP] needs to review its decisions. They need to restore the trust that they have betrayed."
He said the opposition alliance was formed for a particular purpose. "If you are not committed to trusting the movement, then there is no place for you within the PDM."
Asked whether he would resign as secretary general if the PPP rejoins PDM, Abbasi said: "The PPP can't just rejoin the movement. They can only do so once they restore their trust in the PDM. The alliance does not have a revolving-door policy that you break its trust, leave the movement and try to come back again when you face difficulties.
"The door is closed. The door will only open when you rebuild the trust," he said.
He added that the PDM had sought a response from the PPP, which Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had torn into pieces.
"We had asked for a response. Join together the torn pieces [of the show-cause notice], read it and give us the clarification we had sought," he said.
Abbasi, in his capacity as the PDM secretary general, had issued show-cause notices to the PPP and the Awami National Party for nominating Yousuf Raza Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate “in violation of the unanimous decision” of the alliance.
Shortly after the ANP quit the PDM over "its hijacking by some member parties", Bilawal had tore apart the show-cause notice issued by the alliance in a clear message that the future relied entirely on mutual respect.
The Central Executive Committee of the PPP had also asked all the party members to resign from their positions in the alliance.
Maryam backs Abbasi's statement
Meanwhile, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz denied the claim that a new alliance was being formed within the PDM.
"The PDM had decided that a meeting would be held after Eid to decide the future strategy. This meeting will be held soon, and the alliance will sit down and decide what to do. I am not aware of the new alliance you are talking about," she said while answering a question from a reporter outside the Islamabad High Court.
Regarding the statement made by Abbasi, Maryam said that she had not heard his media talk but he had "articulated the stance of the PML-N and the PDM".
"We have still not received a response to the show-cause notice that was issued to the PPP. When that is received, we will sit down and see what has to be done so Abbasi has said the right thing."
Commenting on the dinner hosted last night by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam said it was not a PDM event. He hosted the dinner in his capacity as leader of the opposition, she said, adding that it concerned the upcoming budget session.
"It had nothing to do with the PDM. The alliance's stance is still intact," she said, adding that there was "no change" regarding this. "Don't mix the two things."
Maryam said Shehbaz's dinner was for parliamentarians. "He had invited the opposition in parliament. When he is present, it is not necessary for me to be present everywhere. Don't make this an issue," she said.
Asked whether the PPP had stabbed the PDM in the back, Maryam said: "Did you just find out today?"
Shehbaz attempts to revive PDM in Bilawal’s absence
Earlier today, Shehbaz met with the PDM chief at the latter's home. The visit comes after the PML-N president hosted a dinner reception for all mainstream opposition parties.
In a tweet, Shehbaz said leaders of opposition parties had candidly discussed a host of domestic and foreign challenges facing the country.
"We agreed that there was a need for collective solutions to national issues. We will evolve a joint strategy for the budget session," he said.
Bilawal, who returned to the country from the UAE last night and did not take part in the event, sent a three-member PPP delegation comprising two former prime ministers (Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf) and Sherry Rehman to the dinner.
Similarly, Maryam was reportedly in the federal capital on Monday, but she abstained from attending the dinner reception. PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also did not attend the event.
A source privy to the event told Dawn that while Shehbaz had held a brief chat, no formal meeting took place, as people left the venue after the dinner.
Shehbaz, however, did ask all opposition leaders to unite again in view of the upcoming budget 2021-22. He was quoted as saying that it was the responsibility of opposition parties to resist all anti-people strategies and decisions being taken for the budget.
The source said the PPP and the ANP sought some time to give their reply on the issue raised by the host of the dinner.
Another source said no one except Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s son, Asadur Rehman, talked about PDM’s revival, but no other participant supplemented his point of view. All they talked was about the budget and how the opposition could provide relief to the nation, the source explained.
When contacted, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurganzeb said it was only a dinner and no formal meeting took place. However, she confirmed to Dawn that Shehbaz urged all opposition parties to resist all government moves that caused ‘unprecedented’ inflation, joblessness and poverty in the country.
She said she came to know that Bilawal, who was in the UAE, could not return to Pakistan on a normal flight and thus he returned in a special plane of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.
“As he arrived in Karachi in the evening, therefore it was quite impossible for him to attend the event,” she reasoned. However, a PPP leader said Bilawal had arrived from the UAE late on Sunday night.