PPP advises Fazl against ‘further dividing opposition’

Published September 11, 2021
A combination photo of former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (L) and Pakistan Democratic Movement President Maulana Fazlur Rehman. — APP/File
A combination photo of former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (L) and Pakistan Democratic Movement President Maulana Fazlur Rehman. — APP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has said it does not believe in striking a ‘deal’ with the establishment, advising the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman against “causing further fissures in the opposition” by targeting the party of Bhuttos with baseless allegations.

Maulana, who is also the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president, alleged the other day that the PPP by not resigning from the assemblies played into the hands of the establishment.

“We express utter disappointment over Maulana Fazl’s statement. It does not befit his stature to resort to blatant falsehood in response to criticism of his politics and policies,” said PPP Parliamentarians secretary general Farhatullah Babar on Friday.

Separately, former prime minister and PPP central Punjab president Raja Pervaiz Ashraf told a presser in Lahore on Friday that his party did not believe in a deal as in today’s world such a move could not remain a secret.

“When did the PPP strike a deal [in the past]?” he asked, reminding the party’s critics that its leaders were hanged, assassinated and imprisoned. “We have our own manifesto. We want to challenge the PTI government on the front foot, both in the Centre and Punjab. It is the PPP that always tries to unite the opposition,” he said.

Mr Ashraf said: “We will reorganise the PPP in Punjab and form the future government here.”

PML-N and JUI-F (two former allies of the PPP in the PDM) have been accusing the PPP of cutting a deal with the establishment, while the latter alleged that because of the “politics of hypocrisy” of the two parties the Imran Khan government had been strengthened.

Another PPP leader told Dawn that the Maulana’s ‘direct attack’ on the PPP showed that the JUI-F and the PML-N leaderships were “confused” and perhaps anticipating that it (PPP) might come to power after the departure of Imran Khan. “Currently, the JUI-F and PML-N are indirectly benefiting the PTI government,” he said.

Babar rejected Maulana Fazl’s accusations and said these were aimed at “covering up” the role played by him (Fazl) which would further weaken the opposition’s efforts to dislodge the “selected regime”.

“For the record let it be reiterated that contrary to the assertion of the JUI-F chief, it was never the consensus decision of the PDM to resign from the assemblies. This position of the PPP was explained in unambiguous terms at the meeting of the heads of component parties at Nawaz Sharif’s Raiwind estate this January. That meeting was attended Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazl, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Maryam Nawaz.,” he added.

At that meeting, the former Senator the PPP had laid bare the constitutional, legal and political implications of the resignation option and its likely political consequences. He had warned that as a result, the selected and selectors would join hands and play havoc with the constitutional edifice reconstructed under the 18th Amendment.

The PPP had proposed to adopt the parliamentary route to bring under pressure both the ‘selected and selectors’, Babar said.

“The conversation on proposed methodology [of the move], however, was not pursued further as it was evident that the Maulana was reluctant to take on the non-political support base of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”

Mr Babar said the PDM had disintegrated the day it had announced linking the long march with resignations from the assemblies without taking the PPP onboard.

“The PPP’s position on using the platform of the parliament was vindicated when Yousuf Raza Gillani got elected to the Senate,” he said and added the PPP had participated in the long march of JUI-F in October 2019, but he (Maulana) abruptly called it off after Chaudhry Parvez Elahi disclosed that ‘an understanding had been reached for ending the sit-in’.

“Although it raised serious questions as to what games the Maulana was playing, the PPP refrained from accusing him of playing into the hands of the establishment. The Maulana sahib is advised not to cause further splits in the opposition ranks and save thereby the selected and his non-political backers and support base,” Babar said.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2021

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