- Rashid says PML-N to strive for democracy, political stability along with other political parties
- Kaira says PPP devises a strategy to thwart PTI’s move, reject allegations of a ‘secret deal’
The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – the two mainstream political parties in the National Assembly – have reached an understanding in principle to counter efforts launched by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) to replace opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah.
Former federal minister Senator Pervez Rashid dropped a hint on the possible cooperation between the two parties, telling media that both the mainstream parties had signed the Charter of Democracy (CoD) for strengthening of the democratic process. He said that his party would continue to strive for democracy and political stability in cooperation with other political parties including the PPP.
Sources in both the PML-N and the PPP have confirmed that both the parties would remain in touch to ensure that the applecart in the parliament was not disturbed as the crucial phase of key appointments was about to commence. Under the Constitution, the prime minister has to consult the opposition leader for the appointment of a caretaker prime minister and the cabinet members.
Moreover, the crucial appointment of chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is also another key decision as cases of Sharif family are already pending with the NAB court. Another important matter is that the NAB has also filed an appeal to reopen the graft cases against PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the Supreme Court which makes the NAB chief appointment crucial for the main opposition party too.
On Friday, Asif Zardari arrived in the federal capital and chaired an important meeting to evaluate the situation. According to sources, the PPP co-chairman was given a detailed briefing over the efforts to preserve the position of the opposition leader. According to the sources, Zardari was briefed in detail about the contacts made with the likeminded parties and individuals to muster support for the slot.
“Asif Zardari was informed that the MQM-P had played a key role to upset the chessboard. When he (Zardari) asked whether the MQM-P had recently joined the opposition benches, he was informed that in principle the party (MQM-P) was an opposition party but it had recently voted for the election of newly-elected Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,” the source said.
The source said that Asif Zardari directed the party leaders to exploit the fact that how come a party which had recently voted for the prime minister could be dubbed as an opposition party,” it said. Zardari also directed the party leadership to make contacts with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and others.
In this regard, the source said that Zardari has formed a committee, comprising party leaders, to take the opposition parties into confidence while he (Zardari) will also hold meetings with leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), QWP Chairperson Aftab Sherpao and the FATA lawmakers. In the meetings, Zardari also plans to discuss party’s choice for the new NAB chairman with these parties.
The source said that Zardari also formed a four-member committee led by Farhatullah Babar and Nayyar Bukhari to probe the reasons which led to worst defeat in NA-120. After the meeting, PPP Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira told media that the main opposition party would go to any limit to save Khursheed Shah as the opposition leader. He said that the party had devised a strategy to thwart the PTI move.
However, he said the party’s plan could not be shared with the media. He said that the opposition leader could not be changed on anyone’s whims as one needs the required majority to make this move. “We categorically reject the PTI’s allegations of a ‘secret deal’ as the PPP has never been involved in such deals in the past and will never do in future,” Kaira asserted.
He said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to remain in the government and the opposition at the same time. In reply to a question, he said that the PPP would follow proper procedure in the appointment of the NAB chairman. PPP leader Nayyar Bukhari said that his party was confident to retain Khursheed Shah as the opposition leader since it has the required support and if anyone wants to replace the opposition leader they may fulfill their desire.
On the other hand, PTI Chairman Imran Khan has tasked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to contact the FATA lawmakers while the responsibility to contact ANP, QWP and others to Senior Minister Shah Farman. He also directed party leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi to contact Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and others to woo their support.
However, Qureshi has informed party chairman that he would start contacting those parties from on Monday. In this regard, a PTI leader said that Imran would also chair a meeting of the party’s core committee at his Banigala residence to review the situation.