Opposition calm against govt due to Kashmir issue

Published: September 5, 2019
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KARACHI: The joint opposition, instead of resorting to a massive protest movement against the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, has decided to adopt a calm political strategy for the time being.

Several important leaders of the opposition have opted for this move in order to express solidarity with the Kashmiris as it would convey a positive message to the world that the entire nation, including the opposition, stood united in support of the Kashmir cause.

However, sources in the opposition camp cited different reasons behind the opposition’s failure in taking out a protest movement against the PTI government. These include the political situation arising out of the arrest of the PML-N and the PPP leaders in corruption cases, lack of communication between the central leaders of the opposition parties and lack of consensus among the opposition parties on JUI-F’s resolve to put Islamabad under lockdown.

The two major opposition parties – the PPP and the PML-N – were of the view that a massive rally be held and a phase-wise protest movement be launched instead of locking down Islamabad or staging a sit-in.

The future strategy of the opposition regarding the protest movement would be decided in the next All Parties Conference (APC). The JUI-F chief was expected to contact the opposition parties after Yaum-e-Ashura for the APC.

Opposition sources said the joint opposition had failed to adopt an aggressive policy against the federal government after the arrest of the PML-N and PPP leaders in corruption cases and failure of the no-confidence motion against the Senate chairman.

It is being said that the protest movement of the opposition was now merely restricted to issuing statements.

Sources said the opposition had adopted a cold political strategy in view of the Kashmir unrest.

They said the two major parties of the opposition were in favour of running a stage-wise protest movement against the Centre.

In the first stage, the protest movement options included huge political rallies and protests while in the second phase protests would be carried out temporarily at important locations and highways.

In the third stage, temporary sit-ins would be staged while in the fourth and final stage Islamabad would be put under lockdown.

One of the options in the opposition’s strategy also included not allowing the government to pass any laws in the Senate.

Sources said the PML-N, after the arrest of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, decided to start a protest movement at a slow pace instead of a huge political one as most of the PML-N leaders were currently busy defending their incarcerated leaders in courts.

The attention of the PPP was focused on the situation emerging out of the arrest of Zardari and the possibility of the formation of a forward bloc in Sindh government that would pose a threat to the PPP government in Sindh.

The PPP was adamant on running a mass public contact campaign and was not interested in running a protest movement against the Centre.

The JUI-F desired locking down Islamabad immediately, but consensus was not reached among the major opposition parties for the move, which strengthened the position of the PTI government.

Sources said the future strategy of the opposition against the government would be prepared in the next APC.

On being contacted, PPP central leader Farhatullah Babar said, “The joint opposition is on the same page on taking out a protest movement against the PTI government.”

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is expected to meet Shehbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other opposition leaders soon to decide the date for holding the APC.

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