–Imran Khan’s surprise handshake impresses Zardari, Bilawal
–PPP may respond to PTI chief’s gesture by withdrawing its speaker nominee
ISLAMABAD: The top leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is seriously mulling a proposal to withdraw Syed Khursheed Shah in favour of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) nominee Asad Qaisar for the post of National Assembly speaker while being reluctant to support Shehbaz Sharif for prime minister slot, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
Although the PTI and its allied parties are likely to win the elections for the slots of leader of the house, speaker and deputy speaker, the opposition may pull a surprise if it could manage to win over some of the coalition partners of PTI.
But the news of fissures among the opposition ranks would further shrink the chances of the success of the opposition which is the biggest in the parliamentary history of Pakistan over the past few decades.
Well-placed sources in the PPP have confided in Pakistan Today that the PPP’s top leadership was “amazingly shocked” at the gesture of Imran Khan who not only chose to shake hands with party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and posed along with him for a photograph at the inaugural session of the National Assembly.
Moreover, the PPP was also appreciative of the fact that Imran Khan walked up to the chair of party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and stunned him with a warm handshake.
“Frankly, though President Asif Zardari is a master politician but even he himself was shocked to see Imran Khan coming to his chair and having shaken hands. This has compelled PPP to respond back to PTI’s gesture positively,” the sources said.
The sources said that the party was feeling it difficult to support Shehbaz Sharif for the slot of prime minister and it was possible that the party leadership may decide not to support the younger Sharif.
“Shehbaz Sharif has been using harsh language against the PPP leadership. Moreover, he has yet not apologized to Mr Zardari for his badmouthing. We have been expecting but he shown no remorse. It would be hard for the party lawmakers to support and vote for him on August 18,” the sources added.
The sources said that the PPP leadership had also conveyed to the PML-N leadership its reservation and had urged the PML-N to either field Khawaja Asif or anyone else from the PML-N ranks for the top slot but the request was ignored by the PML-N leadership.
“Moreover, after Imran Khan’s goodwill gesture, the PPP leadership has been compelled to review its decision to vote for Shehbaz Sharif. If we don’t vote for Imran Khan, we may be abstaining from the election for the slot of prime minister,” the sources said.
The sources added that though no decision has been made to withdraw Khusheed Shah in favour of Asad Qaisar, the PPP leadership was still mulling its options as Asad Qaisar had put the PPP leadership in jeopardy by visiting the PPP leadership and making a request to withdraw Khursheed Shah in favour of Asad Qaisar.
When contacted, PML-N lawmaker Khurram Dastgir Khan said that it was true to say that the PPP leaders had shared some reservations about the nominations made by the PML-N. However, he said his party hoped that the PPP would rise over petty issues and would stand united to thwart conspiracies against the sanctity of the vote.
“It would be a test for the PPP tomorrow. We are ready to vote for Khursheed Shah sahib. They have to vote for our candidates. The PPP has to prove by standing like a rock with us that it is a party of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. If it is no more a party of Benazir, they may ditch the PML-N,” he added.
PTI secretary information Fawad Chaudhry, however, said that in his opinion, there was a remote chance that the PPP may withdraw Khursheed Shah in favour of Asad Qaisar.
“Frankly, I don’t see a surprise tomorrow or even on 18 during the election for the prime minister. But we are not worried as we have more than required numbers,” he concluded.