ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has sprung into action to hold the crumbling opposition alliance together in the wake of what appears to be the beginning of a falling out between the two major component parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Fazl spoke with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the phone on Sunday.
The JUI-F chief will also hold separate meetings with the two leaders next week.
The three opposition leaders agreed to continue their anti-government movement.
'Fazl used opposition parties for his vested political interests'
In his conversation with Bilawal, Fazl stressed the importance of the opposition parties to remain united after the “worst horse-trading” witnessed in their no-confidence motion against the Senate chairman.
The JUI-F chief also stressed the need for members of the opposition parties refraining from giving statements against each other.
Bilawal told Fazl that the opposition parties’ defeat in Senate was actually a moral victory for them as it had exposed the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s “undemocratic approach”.
Speaking with Shehbaz, the JUI-F chief said it was necessary to take action against the opposition senators who had betrayed their parties by voting against the no-trust motion. He also suggested convening a meeting of the joint opposition’s Rahbar Committee to remove misunderstandings.
The PML-N and PPP are increasingly growing suspicious of each other following the joint opposition’s failure to unseat the Senate chairman through its no-confidence motion despite having a majority in the upper house of parliament.
The cracks laid bare on Saturday when senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif, during an interview on the Express News show ‘To The Point With Mansoor Ali Khan’, doubted the possibility of his party’s alliance with the PPP lasting for long.
“You will soon see fissures in the alliance. Mistrust between the two parties [PML-N and PPP] is growing and I think it will further increase in the coming days,” he maintained.
The PML-N leader also hinted that the PPP had betrayed the other opposition parties in the no-trust motion. “They [PPP] don’t want to lose the Sindh government. We have nothing to lose.”
Asif also described the PPP senators’ move to submit their resignations to the party chairman as a “political gimmick”.
“To be honest, this is nothing. I will believe it when they actually step down as senators,” he added.
In response, PPP’s Senator Sherry Rehman expressed her disappointment and said Asif’s comments were tantamount to “smashing the opposition alliance into pieces”.
She sought an explanation from the PML-N over its senior leader’s remarks.
“The PPP too has its reservations [over the policies of other opposition parties] but never expressed them openly to keep the alliance intact,” she claimed.
In a statement, PPP Information Secretary Nafeesa Shah asked PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz to take notice of Asif’s statement.
“The PPP entered into an alliance with the PML-N for the sake of democracy even though its activists were unhappy about it,” she said.
“The PML-N itself has been unable to keep its senators in check.”