ISLAMABAD: The calls for change in the National Assembly are not restricted to the leader of the house – the prime minister.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Thursday is said to have has ‘advised’ Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to replace Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan with some ‘reasonable’ person if it wants to succeed in its plan to form a grand anti-government alliance.
The advice, according to officials in both parties, was conveyed by JUI–F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to a two-member delegation of the PML-N that held a meeting with him on Thursday.
The meeting between Fazl and PML-N leaders — Senator Ishaq Dar and MNA Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi — took place after an exchange of harsh statements between Nisar and the JUI-F leadership.
The interaction lasted for one hour, after which both sides tried to give an impression that they had resolved their differences amicably and wanted to work together in the future.
But the anger was visible from both sides’ statements after the meeting.
“I feel hurt by the statement of Chaudhry Nisar about my party… he should not have used such words against us,” Fazl said, commenting on the leader of the opposition assertion that the JUI-F was playing a ‘dubious’ role in the committee that will appoint a new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
“The government will take advantage of divisions in the opposition,” Fazl added.
What followed was even clearer. The officials of his party were more hostile in their statements.
“We don’t recognise him (Nisar) as opposition leader. He is not worthy of the position. He is a spoiler and has been a cause for the opposition being in disarray in four years,” Maulana Amjad Khan, the spokesperson for Fazl, told The Express Tribune. Maulana Ghafoor Haideri also came up with a similar statement, saying Nisar was a person behind the bickering of opposition groups.
A couple of PML-N leaders privy to the meeting also confirmed this, but did not want to be named. Sardar Mehtab Abbasi could not be contacted on his mobile despite several attempts.
The controversy between the two opposition groups was triggered by JUI-F’s decision to vote in favour of the government’s candidate for chairman of a parliamentary committee on the appointment of a new CEC.
JUI-F’s Maulana Ghafoor Haideri voted in favour of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah when the 12-member panel elected him chairman on Tuesday.
Nisar reacted angrily, arguing that Haideri should not have voted for the government candidate because he was the member of the panel on the opposition’s strength. He threatened to write a letter to Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza to replace Haideri with another PML-N member. In the 12-strong body has five members from the PML-N – but Haideri’s vote was decisive to help PPP elect its nominee.
The appointment of the new CEC is key in the country’s fluid political horizon not only in the context of the next parliamentary polls but also because the person appointed to the position could be deciding the fate of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the aftermath of his conviction by the Supreme Court in a contempt case.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2012.