No-trust or resignations, important PDM decision likely today

Alliance meets in Islamabad to deliberate on future strategy after deadline for govt to quit expires

Rameez Khan/hafeez Tunio February 04, 2021


No-confidence motion or resignations, all eyes are on Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) meeting on Thursday (today), where the 11-party alliance is expected to finalise its plan of action against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

The meeting in Islamabad, which will be chaired by PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman, is likely to consider three options for the next phase of its anti-government campaign – resignations from assemblies, long march and no-confidence motion to send federal and Punjab government packing.

Sources privy to the developments told The Express Tribune that the leaderships of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have separately devised their respective lines of action which would be presented in PDM meeting for a final decision.

All the top leaders of the constituent parties in the opposition alliance, including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Maryam Nawaz, will attend the meeting, while PML N Supreme Leader Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari will join via video link.

“Asif Zardari will brief the meeting about the no-confidence motion, presenting numbers in the national and Punjab provincial assembly. However, PML-N working group, led by Saad Rafique, will give briefing on the resignation and long march strategy,” a source told the Express Tribune.

Reports have suggested that all parties in the alliance, except the PPP, are in favour of resignations and long march option, saying that a no-confidence motion would be futile given the opposition’s defeat in the no confidence vote against the Senate chairman, despite a majority in the house.

“It’s now do-or-die situation. The decision will be made with the consent of all parties. If the PPP does not agree on resignations and long march options then PDM can go ahead whatever is decided by rest of the parties,” a senior PML-N leader said on Wednesday.

“It means that the PDM can part ways with the PPP in this situation,” he told a meeting of the party’s working group at the residence of former prime minister and Senior Vice President of the party, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

However, the PPP leadership is confident that the no-confidence motion would be successful in Punjab and in the National Assembly, as 25 PTI National Assembly members (MNAs) had already agreed to support the opposition.

“We don’t want to be part of any unconstitutional move like sit-ins or send the government through the march. We should bring no-confidence motion which is the legal way,” senior PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi told a press conference in Karachi.

“All the parties in the PDM want to get rid of the PTI government but having difference of opinion. “The different options will be discussed at length on Thursday and we have to accept whatever is finally decided by PDM,” he said.

In December, the PDM had set a deadline of January 31 for the government to resign. The alliance had also asked the parties to collect resignations of their respective lawmakers by December 31. The alliance had warned of a long march to overthrow the PTI government.

Political observers believe that Thursday’s meeting would the most important one since the alliance was formed in September last year. If the PDM announcement of December 14 is to be believed, then this huddle is expected to announce the date of long march.

A PPP source said that Zardari, while defending the proposal of the no-confidence motion will also suggest the PDM leaders to form a national government after removing the PTI-led dispensation. The source added that the former president had prepared a presentation for the meeting.

“After getting rid of Imran Khan, we should form a coalition government, taking different stakeholders in the loop for reforms in the system before the next general elections. Zardari has finalised a detail presentation for today’s meeting, which can surprise the participants,” he said.

However, most of the senior PML N leaders oppose the idea of an in-house change. “I believe that no-confidence motion will not yield the results we are struggling for. We have to bring drastic reforms in electoral process and hold the fresh poll,” said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

On Tuesday, while leaving Lahore for Islamabad, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz reiterated that resignations was the most potent option available with the PDM, claiming that many parties in alliance agreed to the proposal.

She added that the timing of the resignation would be discussed during the meeting. She also said that there was a consensus on the long march. “The timing and the duration of the long march and dharna [sit-in] could be or should be decided in the meeting,” she added.

Regarding the PPP’s proposal of bringing a no confidence motion, she said that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would present his proposal during the meeting. “We will ask him about the working and prospects of his proposal,” she said.

PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said that his party had never deviated from the option of resignation and long march, “which are still on the agenda of the PDM. “The no-confidence motion is PPP’s suggestion. If the PDM decided for the long march or resignations, we can accept it too.”

The sources have said that the PDM summit meeting on Thursday (today), would finalise the date and modus operandi for the long march and resignations. They added that the announcement of the date and other details of the march would be made after the Senate elections.

A PDM leader, requesting not to be named, said that Nawaz, Zardari and Maulana Fazal were in constant touch with each other to make the unanimous decisions in the meeting in order to avoid any cracks in the alliance.

It also learnt that PML-N Supreme Leader Nawaz Sharif telephoned Fazl to discuss the prevailing political situation. Sources have said that Sharif agreed with the suggestions put forward by Fazl. He also assured his full support to the alliance.


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