Unseating the premier: Nawaz warns of grand opposition alliance

Published: May 1, 2012

PML-N chief says he will contact Imran Khan; PTI noncommittal, says it will hold meeting on the matter today; JI says it is ready.

ISLAMABAD: 

Nawaz Sharif is still not forthcoming with his exact plan to ensure the prime minister leaves his office – but the chief of the main opposition party dropped some potent hints on Monday, among them a move to form a grand opposition alliance against the government.

In a press conference after chairing a joint meeting of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s top leadership, including the Central Working Committee (CWC) and Parliamentary Party, Nawaz emphasised that pushing the prime minister to resign was the party’s ‘final decision’.

Nawaz added that the PML-N would contact Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), all the nationalist parties of Sindh and Balochistan and, most importantly, even the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)– a rising party considered the PML-N’s chief political opponent. Interestingly, he also said that he would contact the ‘true successors of Benazir Bhutto’.

The PML-N president announced that a countrywide mass movement would be launched against the government if Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani did not step down after his conviction by the Supreme Court last week. The meeting of PML-N’s top leadership was convened in the capital on Monday to decide on the party’s line of action after the apex court convicted the prime minister in a contempt case.

“Obey the Supreme Court verdict. Abandon the premiership or face a protest movement,” Nawaz said, addressing Prime Minister Gilani. “This is the decision of the people of Pakistan and I announce it as the representative of the masses,” he added.

“It is a do or die situation… the whole thing will head that direction,” Nawaz remarked. commenting on the possibility of a long march.

Ambiguities

However, Nawaz did not explicitly elaborate the modalities of his planned mass movement and, on a number of occasions, overtly deflected questions about it. He simply said that the PML-N would consider all options, including en mass resignation from Parliament and a long march.

Nor did he give any timeframe for either move. His party officials, however, said the PML-N has decided to use these options after exhausting all others, including strong protests in Parliament and on the streets.

Grand opposition

Though there were no exact announcements, Nawaz’s press conference seems to have warned the government of what could be turbulent times in the already crises-ridden political arena.

Grand opposition alliances have historically been potent destabilising forces in the country when they hit the streets.

The Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) of the late ‘70s helped topple ZA Bhutto, the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) had shaken then military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq in the ‘80s, while the notorious Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) of the early ‘90s played a big part in seeing Benazir Bhutto’s first government out of office, and then defeating it in the polls.

It remains to be seen if and when Nawaz makes a move in this direction against a well-entrenched Pakistan Peoples Party-led government, which has benefitted greatly from a fractured opposition.

PTI response

On the other hand, the PTI’s reaction to working with the PML-N was lukewarm for the moment.

While they questioned Nawaz’s commitment to the cause, they did say a meeting would take place on Tuesday (today) to discuss how exactly the PTI would move forward to pressurise the government.

“Nawaz Sharif’s track record is a story of unfulfilled promises and false commitments as he let down fellow opposition parties on every occasion… so how can we trust him this time,” questioned Shafqat Mehmood, PTI’s information secretary and media manager.

“PTI’s top leadership is meeting tomorrow in Islamabad and we’ll chalk out our own strategy to pressurise the government to comply with the Supreme Court decision,” said Mehmood.

JI response

While the PTI and PML-N may be shying away from working with each other, a third party might step in with its willingness to work together.

Though JI’s spokesperson Ameerul Azeem told The Express Tribune from Lahore that the PML-N had not contacted them so far, he said that the JI was in favour of evolving cooperation among all political forces against the government. “In fact, we ourselves wanted to call an all-party conference or a gathering of groups,” he said.

Azeem said JI would be willing to cooperate. “Doesn’t matter who leads it. It is not important for us. The bottom line is we want a movement to bring down the government and we will positively respond to his initiative,” Ameer added.

“Appeal or no appeal, the matter of the fact is that the prime minister is a convict,” he remarked.

JUI-F response

Another political force, however, was noncommittal – in its individual capacity, or as a part of a larger movement.

In their immediate reaction, a spokesperson for the JUI-F chief said, principally, the party did not want any confrontation between the government and the judiciary – but added that, in this particular case, a political decision “should not be taken in the dark.”

“I think there is still confusion in the prime minister’s contempt. The court has not explicitly said that he is disqualified,” said MPA Mufti Kafayatullah.

“And then also the government is planning to file an appeal. Let’s see what happens then. We are not in a hurry. We will decide our line of action when all these issues are settled.”

(Read: The verdict in perspective)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Imran
    May 1, 2012 - 5:24AM

    hahah what a Hippo-crate N league. Will join PTI.

    Recommend

  • Blithe
    May 1, 2012 - 5:39AM

    Of course PTI won’t join.
    They are and always have been in cahoots with ppp.

    Even now they are good for nothing except dividing opposition .

    Recommend

  • saqibtahir
    May 1, 2012 - 5:45AM

    Another PNA, IJI? No Mr. sharif not this time. I doubt JUI, TI, MQM, ANP, JI etc. will join you. They don’t join your protests inside the parliament how will they like to accept U their leader outside?

    Recommend

  • anybodyagree
    May 1, 2012 - 5:47AM

    PM fate will be decided by SC.
    PTI joining hands with PMLn in the current situation, is not good for IK in the long run. . . . ????

    Recommend

  • Hasan Awan
    May 1, 2012 - 6:02AM

    Imran Khan is on a target spree of one Person and that is Nawaz and thanks to Imran we have a divided opposition and it will remain so like that. I hope Imran Khan will understand the politics and should cooperate with PMLN in this regard to make a stronger opposition.

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  • Ahmed
    May 1, 2012 - 6:16AM

    PTI should support this cause, Imran Khan is an amazing leader and knows where the heart of the public lies. He should cooperate like a rational politician and help all opposition parties in representing the will of the people which is implementation of the orders of the superior judiciary & help successfully get rid of this corrupt government

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  • salman
    May 1, 2012 - 6:32AM

    times have changed
    in my opinion without pti’s support no grand opposition alliance can succeed

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  • Falcon
    May 1, 2012 - 7:02AM

    All of this is a facade just to get a more favorable composition of ECP. Nura Kushti at its best.

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  • khalid
    May 1, 2012 - 7:12AM

    so noon league needs pti support which they used to call an establishment party..
    classic example of aaya oont paahar kay neeche

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  • Ch Allah Daad
    May 1, 2012 - 7:22AM

    If it was real Tsunami, it would have already hit Islamabad. The man of change is protecting status quo. He knows, he will be finished after elections. He wants to enjoy best moments of his political life and keep on doing it forever. Mian Sahib should forget Imran and collaborate with other parties.

    Recommend

  • Political Analyst
    May 1, 2012 - 7:31AM

    I am a supporter of Imran khan but GOD be my witness if Nawaz shareef leads a rally towards islamabad while IK is sleeping, i will not think twice before voting for Nawaz.

    We need someone to show leadership, if IK cannot than he needs to move out and let the real leaders lead.

    SAB SAY PEHLAY PAKISTAN … PAKISTAN ZINDABAD

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 1, 2012 - 8:04AM

    PML and NS know full well that they can never win an election on their own, hence a rightwing alliance as usual. In fact while the PPP has always contested election all alone, no rightwing party has ever defeated them one on one. This time PPP is ruling as a coalition and would contest as coalition after seat adjustment. That would leave little chance for NS and his party even in Punjab. He is desperate to form a rightwing alliance under his wings. It is up to PTI and IK whether to make the PML sinking ship strong again or not?

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  • May 1, 2012 - 8:09AM

    Unseating the PM and holding elections in the country in three months will not make much difference. Same people with a little cosmetic change here and there will come up again to rape the country for the next five years. What is needed is a radical change in the system. An interim govt authorized by the supreme court, comprising of honest and capable individuals (there is no dearth of them) for at least two years, which should carry out ruthless accountability (not the Musharraf like) and then after the economy and law and order situation have stabilised, introduce the system of Meritocracy. The rut about democracy should end now, as with each new elections democracy is getting more and more corrupted and now it has become on open auction game played with dirty money and there is no way to check this.

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Assad
    May 1, 2012 - 8:51AM

    PTI should join only if PML N resign from Parliament and instead of just demanding new PM, should demand early elections.

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  • Faysal
    May 1, 2012 - 9:02AM

    PML N has held its nerves for four long years, wait for a few more months till the general elections. By starting a movement, you will only give this government a chance to salvage some sympathies from the people.

    Recommend

  • May 1, 2012 - 11:53AM

    Imran Khan to Nawaz: **Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me**! PTI and the Pakistani public will never again be fooled by this double-crosser!!!Recommend

  • Mr Muhammad
    May 1, 2012 - 1:52PM

    Why doesnt pmln just resign from parliament which is the constititional way, now they want to join hands with Ik after all what chaudary wig nisar has said about Ik, Nawaz is a corrupt politician a man who has robbed pakistan, the pak people need to wake up

    Recommend

  • Skin Taj
    May 1, 2012 - 2:58PM

    No Matter how much we the AWAAAAM are desperate to get rid of “Gilani Jannnta” BUT we DO NOT favour any act, of any political party, to derail the DEMOCRACY…. We had enough of non democratic years and practices.
    Let the democratic process run to its logic conclusion and let people choose the RIGHT ONES at the RIGHT TIME !!!!!

    Recommend

  • salman
    May 1, 2012 - 4:49PM

    Seems like PMLN dont have the courage or numbers to go for a long march on thier own…especially after the “jalsa” in Peshawar over the weekend, which despite being advertised with Nawaz’s face, only had about 300-400 people turn up…

    Recommend

  • Jyala
    May 1, 2012 - 5:08PM

    If PMLN resigns from the NA PPP will conduct byelec rigging and forming their own opp.Under the 20 amndt which states that the interim govt will be decided by both the govt and opp.In the absence of PMLN from the NA PPP will bring in their own interim govt and rig the elections.All of PTI fools will then sit helpless when the elections get rigged by PPP in that case.If anything PMLN is saving Pak by protesting while staying in NA

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