- PPP and PTI members are against PAT protest
As a member of the opposition coalition, we keep contact with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) parliamentarians and other party officials. From these contacts, the sense we get is that Asif Ali Zardari does not enjoy party-wide support to join the PAT protest to be launched on Jan17. The main reason is that PAT in its first dharna in 2013 and later in 2014 hurled abuse at PPP leadership. A video of Qamar Zaman Kaira mocking PAT chief is widely circulating on social media and now the same person is asked to join the organising committee of the protest. Not only that allies of PAT Sheikh Rasheed and Imran Khan used derogatory language against Bilawal Zardari which is still not forgotten by party members. The decision to join PAT protest was single-handedly made by Mr Zardari without building consensus in the party. His close friends Manzoor Wattoo and Latif Khosa participated in the meeting with PAT rather than party officials which also shows the dissent within the party.
This is not the first time PPP as a party has refused to follow the decision of Mr Zardari. Here is a short list of decisions of Mr Zardari that was not supported by his party members:
In 2015 after returning from self-imposed exile Mr Zardari announced to contest election to become MNA. The party refused to allow him to do that. He wanted to keep Qaim Ali Shah as CM but the party opposed and replaced him with Murad Ali Shah. Irfan Marwat met Zardari and announced his decision to join PPP. Party member retaliated including his daughters and Irfan Marwat left to support PTI-L (lotas) candidate in a by-election. Mr Zardari wanted Dr Asim to run Karachi but party wanted Saeed Ghani to manage the city.
In 2015 after returning from self-imposed exile Mr Zardari announced to contest election to become MNA. The party refused to allow him to do that. He wanted to keep Qaim Ali Shah as CM but the party opposed and replaced him with Murad Ali Shah
He wanted to keep Manzoor Wattoo as president of Punjab but party retaliated and a new set up was announced. He wanted to derail constitutional amendment to delay delimitation bill in Senate but party prevailed and the bill was passed. Senator Farhatullah Babar proposed inclusion of judges and generals in the accountability bill but Mr Zardari opposed while Bilawal supported it. Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani spoke against US President Trump’s aggression against Pakistan asking to do more. But the party was forced to denounce it. The leader of opposition Khursheed Shah supported Saad Rafique’s speech while Mr Zardari supported DG ISPR statement condemning it.
This is just a short list of PPP members refusing to accept civilian dictatorship of Mr Zardari. This activism of PPP members is a welcome development to save a national party from certain death. Under the leadership of Mr Zardari, the support of PPP has exponentially declined as evident from the by-election in NA4 Peshawar and NA120 Lahore. In PP20 Chakwal the PPP could not even select a candidate to be in the run and decided to support PTI-L (lotas) candidate which lost the election by a wide margin of over 30,000 votes. There are many analysts that are suggesting that he should allow Bilawal Zardari to lead the party and he should remain in the background with minimum public visibility.
It is not just PPP members are against participating in PAT protest, members of PTI has also decided not to participate in these protests. It is a fact that there are no legitimate and constitutional office holders of PTI that participated in meetings with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and they cannot make a commitment on behalf of party members. Through this message, I want to inform that after consulting with many party members it is clear that PTI members do not want to participate in any undemocratic effort and hence will not participate in the protest announced by PAT. PTI members will continue spending all their energies to prepare for 2018 general elections which are only a few months away. Anyone committing PTI to a protest is doing it in their personal capacity and not representing the party.
The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan and judges of the Supreme Court have expressed their commitment to protecting basic rights of citizens. It would be better for PAT to pursue these channels of justice rather than create chaos and political instability in the country. It is even more important because there are many threats to the state from foreign powers and they can use internal dissent to their advantage.
The decision of PPP and PTI members to oppose participation in PAT protest is important for the continuation of the democratic process and avoiding political instability. PTI-L (lotas) that seems to be pleasing third umpires can participate in PAT protests. It is the childish politics of PTI-L that has made PML-N much stronger and united party. The failure of governance of PML-N is now overshadowed by iqama verdict against Nawaz Sharif. PML-N government has failed to lift the economy; reduce tension between provinces and federation; create jobs for employed youth; provide support to agriculture, and improve foreign relations. These failures should have been at the forefront in next general elections but instead, the whole narrative is revolving around Mujhe Kyun Nikala and iqama.