Shehbaz’s cold shoulder worries Bilawal as gulf between PPP, PML-N widens   | Pakistan Today

Shehbaz’s cold shoulder worries Bilawal as gulf between PPP, PML-N widens  

ISLAMABAD: An apparent gulf between the leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has started to impact the possibility of a future alliance between both the major opposition parties as PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has not yet accepted an offer from Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to attend a Multi-Party Conference (MPC).

The PPP chief had suggested the PML-N to join an MPC to form a greater alliance against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Bilawal had previously said that the decision would be taken after Shehbaz completes his quarantine. However, well informed sources in both the PML-N and the PPP have confirmed to this scribe that the PML-N leadership has not yet responded to Bilawal’s proposal to convene an MPC despite Shehbaz’s recovery from coronavirus.

Sources said that the PPP chief has started considering alternative strategy for an anti-government move, adding that during the meeting chaired by Bilawal in Lahore on Sunday, most of the participants proposed to Bilawal to focus on forming a major alliance of the opposition parties along with anti-Imran Khan parties.

“Some leaders also suggested that the PPP should consult with Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other religious parties so as the PML-N would feel the heat and join the alliance due to public pressure,” said a PPP leader told who attended the meeting on Sunday. “Bilawal is concerned why the PML-N is not responding to the offer made by him. It seems that Shehbaz is not in a mood to launch a street protest against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. Perhaps, cases against him are a major source of his reluctance to join an alliance against the government.”

The PPP leader said that it was more disturbing for Bilawal that despite his presence in Lahore, no PML-N leader contacted him for a meeting, which further suggests that Sharifs are no more interested for a movement against the PTI government.

He said that Bilawal was given fruitful proposals during the meeting and all options came under discussion to build a major alliance against the government inside and outside the parliament.  “Bilawal looks determined to launch a movement against the PTI government. The reluctance by Sharifs may not deter his resolve. Once the party takes a final decision on its future strategy, Bilawal may launch a campaign,” he added.

When contacted, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said that Bilawal chaired a meeting of the party’s information secretaries and spokespersons and that it was not a decision-making forum.

Asked whether the options regarding the MPC were discussed, Kaira admitted that the matter was discussed.  “It was a consultative meeting. So various people made some proposals. But decisions would be taken later,” he added.

It may be recalled that on June 28 in Islamabad, Bilawal, along with PML-N parliamentary leader in National Assembly Khawaja Asif, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F’s) Akram Durrani, Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Mian Aslam and other party leaders had told a joint press conference that the anti-people budget is rejected by the opposition.

He said that entire opposition had played a responsible role during the coronavirus pandemic. He also said that Imran Khan being the prime minister is a threat to the health and economic situation of the nation.

“There is leadership in PML-N, PPP and other parties to fight the pandemic. There is no leadership in the PTI to fight it. Shehbaz is sweating Imran Khan even though he is ill. The opposition is giving the government a tough time today and will continue to do so in future,” Bilawal had said.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]