LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz agreed in their meeting at the Sharif family’s Jati Umra residence on Sunday that it was time to take down the government as the budget it had proposed would “cause irreparable damage to the country”.
They refreshed their resolve to launch a movement against the government at the earliest.
Bilawal and Maryam alleged that the government had filed references against judges as a pressure tactic and demanded that they should be withdrawn.
They agreed to stand firm in the struggle for the independence of the judiciary.
The two leaders also demanded that the production orders of all detained members of the national and provincial assemblies should be issued immediately so that they could represent the people who had elected them to their offices.
The meeting that lasted well over an hour was also attended by PML-N leaders Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah, Pervaiz Rashid and Marriyum Aurangzeb and Bilawal was accompanied by PPP leaders Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Hasan Murtaza.
According to a statement issued after the meeting, the PML-N and the PPP decided that allowing the “incompetent” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime to move ahead with its budget would cause “irreparable damage” to the country and that was why an anti-government movement was necessary.
The two sides also decided that other opposition parties as well as the coalition partners of the PTI that were unhappy with the government’s performance would be taken into confidence to chalk out a joint strategy.
Bilawal and Maryam agreed to devise a final plan after consulting the other leaders of their parties.
A meeting of the PML-N parliamentary party has been called on Monday (today) for this purpose.
Bilawal and Maryam decided to revive and reinvent the 2006 Charter of Democracy signed between Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. They described it as a historic document and agreed to revitalise it in line with the prevailing circumstances.
The two leaders held the PTI government responsible for the ongoing crises faced by Pakistan and accused the current rulers of pushing the country to the brink of disaster through their flawed and anti-poor policies.
They noted that Pakistan’s economy had been surrendered to international financial lenders and the situation was becoming worse.
They pointed out that the PTI regime had taken record loans in the past 10 months.
Besides, foreign reserves have depleted, the stock market has suffered a drubbing, the growth rate has reduced by half, development spending has been chocked, the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has stunted and investment has almost come to a halt.
The two sides noted that the government’s policies would lead to almost zero growth, skyrocketing inflation and exponential unemployment.
The participants of the meeting accused the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman of taking “unilateral vengeful actions” and resorting to “targeted” implementation of laws against the opposition leadership in connivance with the sitting government.
Bilawal and Maryam condemned the “coercive tactics, both physical and financial, being used to harass and subjugate media” and called for an end to the “brutal and tyrannical censorship being imposed to hide the ugly face of the government”.
During the meeting, Bilawal said he would ask Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to update him about his plan for calling the all-parties conference, which was announced earlier.
The senior leadership of the PML-N was absent from the meeting lending credence to reports that Maryam has informally taken over party affairs from her uncle and party president Shehbaz Sharif to run a movement against the government. The existence of two camps and two approaches within PML-N is an open secret that the party vehemently denies.