ISLAMABAD.: The opposition parties announced on Sunday that they would launch their individual anti-government campaigns after Eidul Fitr until a joint strategy was chalked out at an all-parties conference, the date for which would be decided later.
“Each [opposition] party has its own manifesto and narrative, but because of the immense challenges faced by the country, all opposition parties have decided to sit together and devise a unanimous strategy to rid the country of incompetent rulers,” Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said at a joint news conference of opposition leaders at Zardari House in Islamabad.
He was accompanied by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maryam Nawaz, and Hamza Shehbaz, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, National Party’s (NP) Hasil Bizenjo, Qaumi Watan Party’s (QWP) Aftab Sherpao and other leaders.
“A joint strategy will be chalked out at an all-parties conference after Eid presided over by [JUI-F chief] Maulana Fazlur Rehman,” the PPP chairman announced. The date for the conference will be announced a few days later.
The news conference came after Bilawal hosted an Iftar-dinner for opposition leaders and other politicians at Zardari House and later presided over a consultative meeting, stepping up pressure on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
“These consultations between [opposition] parties will continue,” Bilawal said.
“There will be protests both inside and outside the parliament.”
Speaking on the occasion, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz expressed her gratitude to the PPP chairman for inviting her to the Iftar-dinner.
“It’s because of the Charter of Democracy that two elected governments were able to complete their tenures,” she said.” We will add more points to the charter and continue to move forward on the same lines,” she added.
Bilawal agreed with her and vowed to work on the charter.
PML-N Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the government had failed to overcome the challenges faced by the country and the people had lost hope.
“We didn’t discuss any personal issues or the so-called accountability drive [at the meeting],” he added.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the Iftar-dinner had allowed the opposition parties to discuss the country’s crises and the political situation together.
“It’s necessary that all opposition parties unite on a single platform to become the voice of the people suffering because of the government’s policies,” he added.
Earlier, the leaders discussed matters over the Iftar-dinner hosted by Bilawal.
It was the first occasion that Bilawal and Maryam met face to face as leaders of their respective parties.
The PML-N delegation was personally received by the PPP chairman on its arrival at Zardari House. He greeted Maryam and embraced Hamza Shehbaz as a goodwill gesture.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Liaquat Baloch, Mian Aslam, Awami National Party’s (ANP) Aimal Wali Khan, Zahid Khan and Mian Iftikhar, Aftab Sherpao, Balochistan National Party-Mengal’s (BNP-M) Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Hasil Bizenjo and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir also attended the dinner.
JI chief Sirajul Haq was unable to attend the event because he is abroad. ANP President Asfandyar Wali could not make it to the dinner because of ill health and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Mehmood Khan Achakzai was unable to catch a flight to Islamabad.
During the Iftar-dinner, the leaders of the opposition parties discussed the country’s deteriorating economic conditions and a political strategy against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
After the dinner, the leaders held a consultative meeting presided over by Bilawal. They offered prayers for the PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira’s son who recently died in a road accident. Former president and PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari also participated in the meeting. The opposition leaders exchanged views on the rising inflation, the financial crisis and overall political situation.
The leaders deliberated about the prospect of a joint opposition movement against the government. Earlier, PML-N leaders gathered at party leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s residence and discussed an anti-government public contact drive.