Devoid of common rival, PML-N, PPP rekindle feud

Published September 17, 2023
PPP leaders Nadeem Afzal Chan and Faisal Kareem Kundi (R) address a press conference in Lahore on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP leaders Nadeem Afzal Chan and Faisal Kareem Kundi (R) address a press conference in Lahore on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

• Chan criticises ‘N’ for abandoning ‘vote ko izzat do’ narrative, calls on party to ‘not hide behind institutions’
• PPP ‘to approach SC if poll date isn’t announced by Nov 30’ • Saad dismisses criticism as ‘political stunt’

LAHORE: With their common rival — the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — seemingly on the back foot in the prevailing political scene, the PML-N and PPP appear to have rekindled their rivalry after remaining allies during the last government’s tenure.

On Saturday, the PPP leadership intensified their attacks on the Sharifs, saying that the PML-N should not hide behind institutions, as it had already abandoned its “vote ko izzat do” (give respect to the ballot) narrative for its “political needs”.

The PML-N leadership, however, brushed aside the criticism as being nothing more than a “political stunt”.

“We don’t need the accountability of PML-N’s Saifur Rehman or PTI’s Javed Iqbal, and we also don’t want to see remnants of Justice Munir and Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry,” PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chan said during a press conference here on Saturday.

Flanked by Faisal Karim Kundi, Mr Chan said the PML-N could be his party’s ally in the government, but not in ideology.

“If a party [a reference to PML-N] deviates from its ‘give respect to the vote’ narrative, then blame cannot be placed on the PPP. A party should not hide behind institutions,” he said, stressing the need for a level playing field for all parties in the upcoming general elections.

Since some former aides to the Sharif brothers have been appointed to the caretaker federal cabinet, and the PML-N is not joining the demand to hold elections within 90 days after the dissolution of the assemblies, the PPP suspects their erstwhile allies of cosying up to the establishment.

During the CEC meeting in Lahore on Friday, sources said that some PPP members accused the PML-N of becoming a ‘darling of the powers that be’ and conspiring against its former allies to gain power.

On Saturday, Mr Chan reminded the PML-N that it was due to the sagacity of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that the PDM government was formed in the first place. “He [Shehbaz Sharif] wanted to resign soon after assuming the charge, but the PPP chairman advised him to stay put and face the challenges while remaining within the ambit of the Constitution.”

In his remarks, Faisal Karim Kundi said NAB should not be used to break political parties. He said that during the recent meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee, former president Asif Ali Zardari had tasked them with reaching out to other political parties, a remark that is seen as an indirect reference to the PTI.

Mr Kundi also, without naming the PML-N, said that some parties needed crutches to stay in power.

“Let me make it clear that the PPP never needs such crutches,” he said, and warned the PML-N not to target the PPP leadership, otherwise the party would respond strongly.

“Our alliance with them [PML-N] has just ended. They should not show such haste in targeting us, otherwise it will have serious repercussions,” Mr Kundi said.

Regarding delay in announcement of the polls date, Mr Kundi said the PPP would wait till November 30 and might approach the Supreme Court if the date was not announced by the ECP by then.

“Pakistan at the moment needs political stability for economic stability. The only way forward in this regard is the holding of free and fair polls. Whosoever wins serves the country,” he said.

Although he did not directly address the remarks made by the two PPP leaders, PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique took to X (formerly Twitter) to criticise their leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. The PPP chairman’s “rants against the PML-N were nothing more than an election stunt,” Mr Rafique said, while also accusing the PPP leadership of supporting ‘Project Imran’.

“To control a province after buying a political elite isn’t politics,” he said, adding that the PML-N, MQM-P and JUI-F could band together to contest polls in Sindh.

“If things remain the same, it could be everyone for themselves in the elections,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2023

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