ISLAMABAD: While the major opposition parties are preparing for the Azadi March scheduled for October 31, the opposition parties stand divided over their demands of resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) wants resignation from the premier while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari are one for an in-house change.
Sources in major opposition parties have told Pakistan Today that even PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif also stand divided over their demands, as the former premier supports the demand of the JUI-F chief and wants fresh elections, while Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal do not want to destabilize the system and rather they want an in-house change.
The second tier leadership of the three parties seemed to be confused due to the “internal divisions among their party leaders”.
“We are working hard to bridge the internal differences. Though the gulf is wide, we are trying to evolve a consensus. Consultations are on and we expect to come up on the same page by October 31,” said a senior PML-N leader.
The PML-N leader admitted the fact that the opposition parties were divided over future course of struggle against the PTI government.
“The opposition is also divided over a proposal from the JUI-F that all the lawmakers of the opposition parties must tender resignations from assemblies once they stage a sit-in at the D-Chowk. While Maulana Fazl wants all opposition parties lawmakers to tender en-bloc resignations supported by Mian Nawaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali and Mahmood Khan Achakzai; PPP’s Bilawal and Shehbaz Sharif are against the idea as they want the assemblies to complete their stipulated terms,” the source added.
A leader in the PPP confirmed the information, saying that the opposition leadership had divergent views over the issues.
“PPP Chairman Bilawal believes that the assemblies must complete their terms, but he was okay with the idea of an in-house change. So, yes, there are different views. We are working to iron out differences,” the PPP leader said.
The PML-N leader said that Shehbaz Sharif believed that the country’s economy was already facing pressure and it would not be possible for the government to spend billions of rupees for new elections within a year’s time.
“The demand for fresh elections looks childish within one year’s time and the stakeholders may oppose this idea. Shehbaz Sharif also says that despite the 126-day sit-in, the stakeholders did not allow anyone to destabilize the system. Same goes for this demand now,” said the source.
The source said that Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali and Achakzai are on the same page while Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari appear to be on the same page on most of the issues.
Pakistan Today contacted Ahsan Iqbal, Sherry Rehman, and Marriyum Aurangzeb for their comments but they chose not to respond despite repeatedly approached.