Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman swung into action on Wednesday, making contacts with the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and asked them to stop the on-going war of words between them.
The PDM – the 10-party opposition alliance– has been facing disputes, which boiled earlier this month after PPP’s Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari linked resignation’s from the assemblies before long march to the return of PML-N’s supremo Nawaz Sharif from London.
Since then, both the parties have been at loggerheads over the resignation issue. The other hotly-contested issue is the nomination for the post of leader of the opposition for which both the parties insisted on their candidates.
The PML-N accuses the PPP of deviating from its earlier commitment made during a PDM meeting that the opposition leader in Senate would be from PML-N. On the other hand, the PPP maintains that the position should go to the largest opposition party in the House – PPP.
“I have spoken to the leadership of the PML-N and the PPP and told both the parties to stop making statements against each other,” Fazl, who also heads the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) said. “Disagreeing statements will harm the PDM’s cause.”
Sensing that the chaos may prove to be the death knell for the PDM, Fazl told the leadership that the disagreements would create hatred among workers, adding all the parties needed to forget the differences and move forward.
During the talks, Fazl while hoping that all opposition parties would respect the decisions of the PDM, urged that all the parties in the PDM should avoid negative talk on social media. “PML-N and PPP have to think beyond the politics of the ’90s,” he said.
Reportedly, Fazl discussed the overall political situation with the PPP and the PML-N leaderships and told Zardari that it has already been decided in the PDM meeting that the Senate opposition leader would be from the PML-N, therefore, all the alliance parties should respect the decision.
The differences between the PML-N and the PPP emerged after the PDM’s joint candidate – former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani – lost to incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. Later the PPP started lobbying for Gilani to be made the leader of the opposition in the upper house of parliament.
Earlier, the PML-N maintained, it was decided that all parties in the PDM would support Gilani for the post of Chairman, JUI-F’s Maulana Ghafoor Haideri for the post of the deputy chairman and PML-N would take the office of the leader of the opposition in Senate.
Responding to the PML-N, a senior PPP leader had earlier told The Express Tribune that the party “will not resign from the assemblies”, adding that the PPP did not make any “commitment” during the PDM meeting that PML-N would be supported for the leader of the opposition.
“With 21 members, we [the PPP] are the largest opposition party in the Senate; why should the PML-N take all the three houses despite being a “minority”,” the PPP stalwart said, while referring to PML-N’s leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – country’s highest accountability forum.
“Never in the parliamentary history has any “minority” party been given such a huge share; the PML-N’s leader of the opposition and PAC chairman is because of our [PPP] support and now they want their leader of the opposition in Senate as well,” the PPP leader said.
Later, on March 21, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz made it clear that the opposition leader in Senate would 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.
In response, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while talking to the media after his meeting with Jamat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq the other day said that according to the democratic traditions, the opposition leader in the Senate should be from the party that has the majority.
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