PPP springs no-confidence surprise, keeps everyone guessing on resignations

CEC vows to challenge PTI govt with no-trust moves in NA, Punjab and other PAs


Hafeez Tunio December 29, 2020
Bilawal is briefing media after the CEC meeting. SCREENGRAB

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) surprised everyone on Tuesday with the announcement of contesting the upcoming Senate elections, while endorsing at the same time almost all decisions of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), including resigning from assemblies.

The party, in its Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting at the Bilawal House here, also decided to challenge the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led governments at the Centre and in other provinces through no-confidence motions in the National Assembly, Punjab Assembly and others.

The hours long CEC meeting was jointly chaired by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari. After the meeting, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressed a press conference along with senior party leaders.

“We don’t backtrack on the PDM decisions made at the all parties conference (APC), but we want to send the selected and incompetent government of Imran Khan packing. If he does not resign till January 31, our deadline given to him, then we will kick him out,” Bilawal told reporters.

The CEC after long deliberations endorsed the PDM action plan about long march and en mass resignations, the date of which is yet to be announced, he said. “I am sharing with you the decision of our CEC meeting, but final decision will be made with consensus of the PDM leaders,” he added.

Sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that during the CEC meeting, some PPP leaders opposed the idea of tendering resignations from Sindh Assembly and proposed a struggle inside parliament by bringing no-confidence motion against the PTI-led government.

“If we don’t contest the Senate election, we will be out of the upper house of parliament for five to six years, so not only we avail this opportunity, but we must convince the PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz] and other leaders to jointly contest against the PTI in Senate election,” a PPP leader, who attended the CEC meeting, told The Express Tribune, on condition of anonymity.

Other party sources said that the PPP was also not inclined to lose the Sindh government in the prevailing political environment and suggested that the party could prefer resignation from the National Assembly if the situation warranted.

“Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari was opposed to playing all cards at this moment,” said a source. “Let’s mount pressure on the government by organising long march and negotiate with the PTI coalition partners at Centre and in Punjab to bring the no-confidence motions. The resignations are the last option,” the source quoted Zardari as telling the PPP CEC.

At the press conference, Bilawal appeared confident that the days of the PTI government were numbered, but he would not reveal how it will be made possible. He described resignations as “an atom bomb” for the government, but said it had not been decided when this option would be used.

However, as per the PDM decision, the PPP chairman told reporters, “it has been decided that the members of the assembly will submit their resignations to their respective leadership by December 31”. He also said: “If we contest the Senate elections together, we can win.”

He said that the PTI’s allies were not happy and wanted to quit the coalition. “All coalition partners of this selected government including MQM [Muttahida Qaumi Movement], GDA [Grand Democratic Alliance] and people from Balochistan are unhappy with the PTI’s performance,” he said.

“They have already expressed their concern. Everyone wants to get rid of the puppet government,” he said, adding that PTI government would not remain in power for a day if its selectors withdraw support.

Responding to a question, Bilawal expressed “serious concern over the role of the establishment and its inferences in politics”. He said: “We want to end its role in politics and restore true democracy in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the party would fight for this cause from the PDM platform.

Bilawal said that the PPP would challenge the federal government at various forums – be it parliament or in the streets. “We are doing it in the best interest of Pakistan’s economy, which is being ruined with each passing day… inflation is touching new highs and with the negative growth, Pakistan is lagging behind the entire region,” he added.

“Even the economic situation of Afghanistan and Bangladesh is better than us,” he said, holding the “selected government” of Prime Minister Imran Khan responsible for it. “Everyone knows how this government has come into power and who has brought it to throne.”

The CEC expressed concern over the government decision to endorse the census results. “The PPP from the first one has been raising its voice against unfair counting of population in Sindh and other provinces,” Bilawal told the press conference.

Bilawal said that the federal government had endorsed the census results illegally. “We will also consult various stakeholders, including the PTI’s coalition partners, who have reservation to the census exercise,” he said.

The PPP chairman said that the CEC had decided that the party would make direct contacts with labourers, farmers, students, doctors, lady health workers and lawyers' organisations, including Pakistan Steel Mills and PIA workers. “Unless we fight together, we will not succeed,” he said.

According to the PPP chief, the CEC condemned the Indian aggression in Indian illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), and expressed concern over the massive rigging in Gilgit-Baltistan elections, where, he said, the federal government used the state machinery to influence the vote.

Bilawal termed the federal government’s decision of “occupying Sindh’s islands near Karachi” to build a modern city there, an “illegal act”, saying that his party in consultation with local fishermen and other stakeholders, would start an agitations against it from the PDM platform.

Bilawal categorically refuted media reports earlier, which said that CEC meeting demanded return of PML-N leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif back to the country. “There is no such decision,” Bilawal told reporters.

When asked about negotiation with the government, the PPP chairman said: “First Imran Khan should resign only then we will talk to him and even ready to play cricket with him.”

Bilawal strongly condemned the arrest of PML-N leader Khawaja Asif and said that this act of revenge was against the security and stability of Pakistan, adding: “We want across-the-board accountability instead of an accountability aimed at political engineering and victimisation.”

The CEC meeting that was attended by members from all the four provinces, also discussed the holding of free and fair election in the country and demanded that the 2018 episode must not be repeated in the future. The meeting also discussed organisational matters.

Insiders told The Express Tribune that party leadership also decided to contest the by-elections on the vacant provincial assembly seats in Umerkot, Sanghar and Karachi etc. “With these by-elections, our position in the senate will also be strong,” a sources quoted Zardari as telling the CEC members.

Later, a statement issued by the Bilawal House said that the PPP CEC meeting endorsed all decisions and action plan of the PDM, including collection of resignations of assembly members by December 31, and stressed that the “present incompetent, incapable, illegitimate and corrupt government should be challenged at every forum and every political weapon should be used against it.”

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