The PML-N and the PPP – the two major parties in the eleven party opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – seem to be drifting further apart each passing day over the question as to which party will hold the key position of the Senate opposition leader.
PML-N’s de facto chief Maryam Nawaz on Sunday made it clear that the opposition leader will be from her party as it was decided “in principle” at a PDM huddle.
However, PPP Chairman Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari on Monday formally started lobbying for the PPP candidate, Yousuf Raza Gilani, for the slot as he met Sirajul Haq, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami – an opposition party which is not part of the PDM.
Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Syed Hassan Murtaza, Faisal Karim Kundi, Sardar Salim Haider and Saeed Ghani were accompanying the PPP chief during the meeting that took place at the JI’s headquarters in Lahore.
Talking to the media after the meeting, Bilawal said according to the democratic traditions, the opposition leader in the Senate should be from the PPP as it is the biggest opposition party in the upper house of the parliament.
Responding to a question, he said the PPP does not believe in striking secret deals and “being selected because we have always believed in a fair competition”.
The PPP chairman said it is the responsibility of the politicians to ensure that political parties look for common grounds on issues such as electoral reforms, accountability and Kashmir.
“The PPP and the JI have similar stances on these issues. We are organic political parties. However, there are political parties in the country which use foul language against their opponents. We have been resisting and condemning rigging in elections and it should be stopped,” he added.
To another question, Bilawal said the economic crisis is the biggest challenge that the country is facing, and that he has made an effort to engage all parties in the PDM.
Bilawal said he will hold a separate press conference on the PDM if needed. “We want to create hurdles for the government by reaching a common ground with the JI as well as other opposition parties.”
The PPP chief also condemned the manner in which the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned Maryam Nawaz. “By this move, NAB is inviting criticism.” To another question, he said any statement by Maryam will be answered by the PPP vice president.
He said PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has only now demanded that the same standards of accountability should be applied to all including generals “while we have been demanding the same for the past three generations.” He said NAB, as an institution should not be used in personal vendettas.
“In both the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly, the situation is extremely favourable for moving no-confidence motions. A tough time should be given to the government from within and outside the parliament,” he added.