LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Friday criticised the Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) move to attain the post of Senate opposition leader, saying it was a “setback” for the 10-party alliance.
Flanked by PML-N leaders Rana Sanaullah and Azam Nazeer Tarar, Ahsan Iqbal spoke to media outside Jati Umra in Lahore.
“If the Balochistan Awami Party [BAP] senators are included to attain the post of the leader of the Opposition in Senate, then indeed [Pakistan Democratic Movement’s] objectives, its struggle and the opposition alliance have suffered a setback,” said the former interior minister.
Referring to the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) senators, Iqbal said: “The entire Islamabad knows on whose directions they vote.” Referring to it as a “suspicious transaction” he said that such a move was not in line with the PDM’s transparent politics.
“If this slot [leader of the opposition] was so necessary for the PPP, the party should have informed Nawaz Sharif about it. He would have happily ceded the post to them,” said the PML-N leader.
Iqbal condemned the PPP for seeking support from the BAP without informing the PDM, adding that such a move has delivered a blow to the opposition alliance.
In response to a question, former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said that the party will take up the PPP’s recent move in the upcoming session of the PDM’s meeting.
Iqbal said that all opposition parties had expressed their support for the PML-N’s Azam Nazeer Tarrar for the post of Senate opposition leader.
“JUI-F [Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl] chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Hasil Bizenjo’s National Party [NP], Akhtar Mengal, Mahmood Khan Achakzai and other leaders as well supported [Azam Nazeer Tarar],” he said.
The PML-N stalwart said that the party was hurt that the Awami National Party (ANP), which is part of the PDM, took the ‘unilateral decision’ to support the PPP’s bid for the Senate opposition leader slot.
In response to a question, the PML-N said that the PDM will not be affected by the exclusion of one or two political parties. He said that the alliance represented the aspirations of 220 million Pakistanis, adding that it will continue to perform its role in the future as well.
“The PDM is lethal and our manifesto yet remains alive,” he said. “Whoever betrays the PDM’s objectives will pay a heavy price,” added the former minister in a veiled warning to the PPP.
The strong reaction from the PML-N leadership came a few minutes after former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani filed nomination papers for the post of Senate opposition leader.
According to a report published by a local news outlet, Gillani had filed for nomination with the support of 30 opposition senators for the post, pulling a surprise coup that has upset the other main opposition party, the PML-N.
Talking to the media after submitting the request, Senator Sherry Rehman said that the PPP’s request contained the signatures of 21 senators from the party, two from the ANP, one from the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), two from erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and four members of the upper house belonging to an independent group headed by Senator Dilawar Khan.
This new rift within the alliance comes a day after the joint endeavour of the PDM allies to force the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to postpone Maryam Nawaz’s Friday’s hearing had seemingly reinforced the need for the opposition parties to stand united.
An informed source in the PDM had divulged to Pakistan Today that the unity among the opposition alliance was possible due to the efforts of the PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M).
The source had said that the PDM President Fazl contacted former premier Nawaz and former president Asif Ali Zardari several times, during which the grievances between the two parties were resolved. As a result, all the parties of PDM had come together on one platform.
Moreover, PML-N Vice-President Maryam on Wednesday had shot down reports of a rift with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
The PML-N vice-president, speaking to the media, had said that both the parties — PML-N and PPP — had their strategies, while for a common goal, they stood united on the opposition platform.
“PDM will decide its plan of action, and no one will interfere with it,” she had said.
However, it now appears that the PPP’s actions have once more caused the difference in strategies to highlight the disarray of the PDM. It is pertinent here to mention that various members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have called the alliance “unnatural” – of which, the most vocal has been Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz.
After the news of Gillani being selected as the leader of the opposition in the Senate broke, Faraz on Twitter said: “Dedicated to PPP and PDM. Everyone is proud of you being heartbroken. My jigar, congratulations on winning by losing.”
Similarly, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on Friday said that the self-interest alliance of PPP and the PML-N had reached its logical end after Gillani’s appointment as opposition leader in the upper house of the parliament.
Talking to a private news channel, he said that the differences among PDM parties especially PPP and PML-N had surfaced publicly and they would further intensify with every passing day.
Rasheed maintained that PPP would not go for resignations from assemblies as it had to lost its government in Sindh.
He said that opposition parties were only safeguarding their personal and political interests and they had no concern with public issues.
He added that the opposition should accept the government’s mandate and let the PTI complete its constitutional tenure. “If we failed to deliver, the people would not vote us in the next elections,” he maintained.