ISLAMABAD: Amid rising political temperatures in the country, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has ‘appealed’ to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the opposition parties to show restraint and urged them to cancel their planned public meetings at D-Chowk in the larger national interest.

The appeal was made by the ailing president of the PML-Q, a key ally of the PTI at the Centre and in Punjab, through a statement on Tuesday amid mounting fears of confrontation and violence as both sides have given calls to their workers to converge at the historic D-Chowk in Islamabad to demonstrate their public power ahead of the crucial vote on the no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The PTI has announced that it will bring one million people at D-Chowk on March 27 “to express solidarity with the prime minister” in the wake of the opposition’s no-trust move, whereas opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has also given a call to its workers and the public to begin their long march towards Islamabad on the Pakistan Day on March 23 to stage a possible sit-in to counter the government’s alleged attempt to forcibly stop lawmakers from entering the Parliament House to cast vote on the no-trust motion.

PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman, however, on Tuesday anno­unced a slight change in their plan and issued directives to workers of the member parties to enter the capital on the evening of Friday (March 25) instead of March 24.

PDM delays march plan for a day due to OIC meeting; MQM-P delegation meets Shehbaz, Fazl

Talking to reporters after presiding over a meeting of the steering committee of the joint opposition, the Maulana said they had made the decision due to the presence of foreign ministers of Islamic countries in Islamabad for the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting. He said “we have great respect for Muslim countries and do not want to create any problems for the foreign dignitaries”. Since the OIC delegates would leave by March 24, the alliance put back the march to March 25.

In reply to a question, the Maulana refuted the impression that the opposition was imitating the ruling party by holding the long march, recalling that they had given the call for the long march on March 23 some three months ago.

The PDM chief alleged the ties between the PTI and its allies had been ‘broken’ and they would soon announce their support for the opposition parties, claiming that matters between them had almost settled.

Meanwhile, the three key allies of the government — the PML-Q, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) — continued meetings with each other as well as the opposition leaders.

An MQM-P delegation led by its convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui met PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif in the presence of PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. According to PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, the two sides had agreed to continue consultation and political contact on the pressing issues on socio-political landscape of the country. The MQM-P leader had invited both Mr Sharif and Maulana Fazl for another meeting on Wednesday evening (today), she said, adding that it would be held at Parliament Lodges.

Later, Ms Aurangzeb said, Balochistan National Party (BNP) chief Akhtar Mengal also called on Mr Sharif along with a delegation and the two sides consulted in detail on the strategy and coordination of the united opposition over the upcoming no-confidence motion.

Meanwhile, a BAP delegation led by MNA Khalid Magsi met PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and discussed the strategy for the future in the wake of the no-confidence resolution against the prime minister. Both sides agreed there was a need for efforts to cool down political temperatures in the country.

In his statement, Mr Shujaat particularly targeted the PTI, stating that it was not government job to hold public meetings and rallies.

“The opposition usually does politics of public meetings, but it is surprising that the government has also started holding public meetings in a competition which is not its job,” declared Mr Hussain, adding that the country, which is already facing economic and political crises, could not bear such ‘dangerous confrontation’.

“We all will repent if someone is killed or assassinated during this confrontation,” warned the PML-Q chief, fearing a bloodshed in the country. He asked the ruling PTI and the opposition parties not to lead their supporters towards ‘provocative’ politics and asked them to participate in the vote on the no-trust resolution in a democratic manner while maintaining the sanctity of the constitution and democracy and without making the victory or the defeat an ego issue.

Mr Hussain warned that the politics of confrontation could cause anarchy in the country and the internal and external enemies could take advantage of such a situation.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2022

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