Senate opposition leader will be from PML-N, insists Maryam

With 21 senators PPP is the largest opposition party in upper house and deserves the slot, says Raja Pervez Ashraf

Our Correspondent March 21, 2021
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz has made it clear that the opposition leader in Senate will be from her party as it was decided “in principle” at the PDM huddle ahead of elections for chairman and deputy chairman of the upper house.

Addressing a news conference following a meeting with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at Jati Umrah in Lahore on Saturday, she said when the leaders of 11-party alliance met at Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's residence, they decided to support Yousuf Raza Gilani for Senate chairman, JUI-F's Abdul Ghafoor Haideri for deputy chairman, and a PML-N candidate for the leader of the opposition slots.

“Winning or losing [Senate chairman poll] was not discussed as a factor for any change in the decision,” she maintained, further reinforcing reports of rifts within the anti-government alliance.

The largest opposition party is reportedly considering the names of Azam Nazeer Tarar and Sadia Abbasi for the position.

Also read: Nawaz receiving threats his daughter would be killed over fiery speeches, claims Maryam

The Pakistan Democratic Movement appeared to be in tatters last week owing to a divide on the issue of resignations of the lawmakers from assemblies, forcing it to postpone the long march against the government.

Their summit had ended without taking any decision on major issues as leaders engaged themselves in heated exchanges over resignations, Senate elections, and on the question of who to nominate as leader of opposition in the upper house of parliament.

The Pakistan Peoples Party refused to resign from the assemblies, while the PML-N refused to recall Nawaz Sharif from London.

Meanwhile, former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that with 21 senators in the upper house, PPP is the single largest opposition party in the Senate. The party, he said, believed that in accordance with democratic traditions the slot of opposition leader in the Senate should go to it.

Asharf, in a statement, said that the two other most important parliamentary positions – the opposition leader in the National Assembly and the chairman of the public accounts committee – both are held by the PML-N. It would be only right and proper that the third important parliamentary position is given to the largest opposition party in the upper house instead of the party which already held the other two important parliamentary positions.

He however expressed the hope that the issue will be settled 'amicably with consensus' among the combined opposition parties in accordance with the 'established democratic norms and traditions'.

‘PDM workers to accompany Maryam at NAB hearing’

Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Fazlur Rehman, speaking alongside Maryam at today's presser, said that the workers of all parties of the alliance will accompany Maryam during her hearing at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on March 26.

"The reasons stated for the hearing have actually unveiled the true face of NAB. We have always held the stance that it is an authority that doesn't act on its own," the PDM chief said.

"During the hearing on March 26, millions of workers of PDM will be there with Maryam," Fazl added.

He went on to say that the masses have been suppressed by inflation and high power tariff, adding that Pakistan has been made to act on IMF's orders. "The country is being made to act on such directions over its economic situation," he said.


To a question regarding the Pakistan People's Party's (PPP) stance, the PDM chief said that the PPP should respect the decision of the nine other parties of the alliance.

Read Attempts under way to divide PDM, says Fazl

"However, we will wait for the decision of the party's central executive committee's and consider their suggestions. We will amicably resolve the issue with them," he added.

Answering a question regarding why the two parties would not stage a long march without the PPP, Fazl said the PPP was a large party, and even if a smaller party puts across their concerns, they should be heard, and attempts should be made to resolve them.

Speaking on the occasion, Maryam Nawaz said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will have to respond to the situation he has put the country in.

"The PDM is united to seek these answers and represent the masses; we will not give the government any sort of leverage or let them escape this situation," the PML-N vice president stated.


‘Long march at all costs’

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Rana Sanullah said that the proposed long march will be held at all costs whether it is participated by 10 parties or 9 of them.

Talking to the media before the meeting, Sanaullah said that the PDM chief also recently spoke with Nawaz Sharif and PPP co-chair. Now, he added, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman wants to find middle grounds [in the given situation]

“The movement of the PDM will succeed at all costs. The long march has been postponed until after Eid; it hasn’t been cancelled,” he added.

“The only cure for the rulers is a long march; whether it will be held with or without resignations is the question,” the PML-N leader added.

On Friday, Fazl said that attempts were being made to divide the anti-government alliance, saying he rejects speculations that the alliance would split.

He also said that the anti-government long march of the joint opposition, earlier scheduled for March 26, would now possibly take place after the holy month of Ramazan.

On March 17, Fazl contacted Nawaz to discuss the alliance's future plan of action and the proceedings and decisions of the opposition parties' huddle held a day earlier, on March 16, over the long march.

Read more Fazl, Nawaz discuss plan of action in aftermath of PDM huddle

They also mulled over a future strategy against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.

'Life threats'

Later today, while addressing a PML-N Youth Convention in Lahore, Maryam claimed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been receiving threats that his daughter [Maryam Nawaz] would be eliminated if she does not stop making firery speeches.

However, she did not reveal as to who issued death threats.

“I told Nawaz Sharif that life and death is in the hands of Allah, not in the hands of NAB [National Accountability Bureau] or the government.”

Maryam said that NAB is targeting opposition leaders at the behest of Prime Minister Imran Khan and added that it recently moved to court for her bail cancellation to weaken the opposition anti-government movement – PDM.

Earlier this month, the anti-graft authority moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking the cancellation of Maryam’s bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

In the petition, filed by the NAB chairman, it was argued that the PML-N vice-president was misusing her bail by attacking state institutions through media, making false accusations and engaging in anti-state propaganda, while refusing to appear before the bureau despite summons.

Maryam responding to NAB’s call-up notice said the anti-corruption watchdog has failed to find any corruption evidence against her and it was now asking court to cancel my bail for “maligning state institutions”.

“Who has tasked NAB to check statements of politicians,” she said, adding that she would appear before the bureau on March 26.

Maryam said those who would say that Nawaz’s politics has come to an end “are now scared of him while he is sitting in London”.

She said her father Nawaz, three-time former premier, was removed from power in 2017 over false allegations.

A prominent political leader of the country told me that Nawaz was removed from power by “selectors” because he became very popular among masses, Maryam claimed.

Referring to late accountability court judge Arshad Malik, Maryam said he had also admitted that he had announced verdict against Nawaz in assets beyond means case “under duress”.

She said now attempts were being made to intimidate PML-N members to change their political loyalties.

The PML-N stalwart went to say that despite all rigging attempts her party had won 2018 general elections but the results were changed to “install” PM Imran into power.




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