Capital heats up as anti-PTI bloc makes its move

Published March 10, 2022
Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq (L) and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif (R) address the media after their meeting on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy JI Twitter
Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq (L) and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif (R) address the media after their meeting on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy JI Twitter

ISLAMABAD: As political temperatures rise in the wake of the submission of a no-trust resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the capital on Wednesday witnessed a flurry of activity, including a meeting between a key government ally and the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the departure of a ruling party stalwart to meet dissident PTI leader Jahangir Tareen in London and various pressers on the fate of no-trust move.

Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, whose party is a key ally of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) at the Centre and Punjab, along with a federal minister met PPP leader and former president Asif Zardari at the latter’s residence and discussed political situation, a day after Mr Hussain had met Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Islamabad.

Dissident PTI leader Aleem Khan also flew to London on Wednesday morning to discuss recent developments with Mr Tareen, just two days after his public announcement of joining disgruntled PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen’s faction in an attempt to remove Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

His arrival in London triggered speculations about an impending meeting with Mr Tareen as well as questions about a possible meeting with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to discuss dramatic political developments in Lahore and Islamabad. When asked about the possibility of an interaction between Mr Tareen and Nawaz, a party source told Dawn’s correspondent in London: “All legal options are on the table.”

Aleem in London to meet Tareen; Shehbaz Sharif seeks JI’s support

In an attempt to muster maximum support for the no-trust move against the premier, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president and opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif met Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and formally sought support of his lone member in the National Assembly. The JI chief told him that the party would make the decision after in-house consultation today (Thursday).

While both sides were maintaining secrecy over the talks of Mr Hussain with the opposition leadership, an official announcement by the PPP media office disclosed that the PML-Q chief during his visit to the residence of the former president was accompanied by federal Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema and Chaudhry Salik Hussain. “The political situation in the country was discussed in detail during the meeting,” stated the brief handout.

Talking to reporters after his meeting with PML-N president, JI chief Sirajul Haq said there was no doubt that the PTI government had failed at all the fronts, but the performance of the past rulers, too, was not worth mentioning. He said the JI would like to see early elections in the country if the opposition move succeeded. Before the elections, all the parties should carry out electoral reforms, he said, highlighting the need to change the system instead of faces.

The JI, which had contested the 2018 general elections from the platform of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), is not a part of the joint opposition and has a lone member Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali in the National Assembly.

According to party spokesman Shahid Shamsi, the JI chief told the opposition leader his party would make the decision after consultation and a meeting of the JI Majlis-i-Shoora had already convened at its headquarters in Mansoora on Thursday (today).

Opposition’s reaction

While addressing a separate presser, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “increasing abusive, aggressive and threatening speeches” were proof that he had lost his mind after realizing that the no-confidence motion would be successful.

“Imran’s threats, abusive language, mudslinging and hooliganism will have no effect on the spirit of the joint opposition nor will it have any impact on the outcome of the no-confidence motion,” she said, adding that the opposition had already suffered the worst spell of political victimisation.

“The empty threats by a desperate, weak, powerless, characterless and classless hooligan mean absolutely nothing,” she said.

In reaction to the prime minister’s speech in Karachi, PPP leader and former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said it was not the job of the prime minister to put the people in jails. Rather, he said, it was the job of courts to decide who should go to jail and who should be released.

He asked Mr Khan to tender “public apology” for using derogatory and abusive language against the leaders of the opposition parties. He said it was unfortunate that Mr Khan was targeting Maulana Fazl, former president Zardari, ex-premier Nawaz Sharif who had rendered great services to the country.

Mr Ashraf said the prime minister should keep in mind “what goes around, comes around” and that no one would be able to protect his honour if such a political culture was promoted. He said Mr Khan was full of hatred and arrogance and then said: “An arrogant person is always a coward.”

Also, PML-N’s vice president Maryam Nawaz through her official Twitter handle advised the prime minister to “show patience since there is some time left in the no-confidence motion”. In an apparent reference to the use of word ‘gun’ by the prime minister in his latest speech, she said, Mr Khan had already thrown the weapon.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2022

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