- Fazl meets Shehbaz, likely to hold talks with Zardari later
- PPP’s Kaira says were willing to visit Nawaz in jail
- Balochistan CM says BAP to support Dr Alvi
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Despite persistent efforts by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to make the joint opposition parties drop the name of Maulana Fazlur Rehman as a candidate for the slot of president, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) have stuck by their nominee.
The senior leadership of the PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-F (JUI-F) have agreed against withdrawing Fazl’s name for the presidential election. The decision was made in a meeting held at the PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s Model Town residence.
In a press conference held after the meeting, Fazl urged the PPP to agree on the decision made by the joint opposition parties over his name for the slot as “by not withdrawing its candidate the party is providing an easy opportunity to the PTI”.
He added that the PPP had indirectly paved the way for Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold office by not voting in the leader of the house election in August.
In the meeting, Fazl and Shehbaz discussed their future strategy regarding the upcoming presidential race.
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Akram Khan Durrani accompanied the JUI-F chief, while PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and others were present in the meeting.
Fazl said that he has been nominated as presidential candidate by all opposition parties except the PPP.
“We will try to have consensus over a joint opposition candidate,” he said.
The join opposition’s candidate said that he has cordial relation with the PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and requested him to withdraw his candidacy for the unity of opposition parties.
“PPP should accept opposition’s candidate to express unity among them,” he said.
PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz Sharif argued that the opposition will put its maximum effort for its success in the presidential election.
“We will also reach to the political parties who have not agreed to support Fazl,” the PML-N leader said.
The PML-N and PPP leaders are expected to hold a meeting to reach a consensus for a joint candidate later on Sunday.
Earlier, with the grand opposition alliance failing to reach consensus on a single nominee, PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan and MMA’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman had emerged as the two candidates challenging Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Dr Arif Alvi’s bid for the Presidency in the September 4 election.
During the meeting, which is scheduled to be held later on Sunday, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is resolved to put across a strong case for the party’s nominee for opposition’s candidate for presidential election Aitzaz Ahsan.
The failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate is expected to provide a virtual walkover to Dr Alvi, however, both the opposition alliance and PPP had expressed hope that each would withdraw its candidate in favour of the other.
‘WERE WILLING TO VISIT NAWAZ IN JAIL’:
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira on Sunday said that the party leadership was willing to meet former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in order to obtain his support for the upcoming presidential elections.
Kaira made the comments at a press conference in Lahore, saying the PPP leadership was willing to visit Nawaz in Adiala Jail but could not do so for reasons that cannot be revealed at this point.
Kaira explained that the PPP was not part of an alliance with the opposition parties but had cooperated against rigging during the recently conducted general elections.
He opined that the PML-N should support Ahsan’s bid for the presidency.
In response to a question, he said that the PPP had hoped a joint candidate could be fielded for the post, adding that they hope JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman would withdraw from the race.
RIFTS APPEAR IN OPPOSITION:
The grand alliance, which was formed by 11 opposition parties soon after the July 25 elections, has suffered blow upon blow in the weeks since its formation.
The first controversy had erupted following the PPP’s refusal to vote for Shehbaz Sharif as a joint opposition candidate for the Prime Minister’s Office despite it earlier agreeing on a formula that had authorised the PML-N to nominate its candidate for the PM’s election.
Later, the PPP ‘unilaterally’ nominated Ahsan as its candidate for the president. The PML-N leaders, who claimed that they had come to know about Ahsan’s nomination through the media, stated in categorical terms that Ahsan’s name could not be considered as the PPP had not consulted any of the opposition parties before making the decision and also because of his ‘nasty remarks’ over the illness of Nawaz Sharif and his wife.
BAP TO SUPPORT PTI CANDIDATE:
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said that the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) would support Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf”s (PTI) candidate Dr Arif Alvi.
Talking to a private news channel, he said that Dr Arif Alvi was the right person for the top slot.