Resignations no more an option: Ahsan Iqbal

PML-N leader says PPP is a separate entity with new alliance

Rameez Khan March 28, 2021
Former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal. PHOTO: Reuters/FILE


With the PPP forming a new alliance, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday said the option of en masse resignation from the assemblies was off the table for now for the Pakistan Democratic Movement – the 11-party opposition alliance.

“The option of resigning would only have worked if all opposition parties, including the PPP, had resigned from assemblies,” Iqbal told The Express Tribune. Without PPP in the axis, he said it would be a “suicidal mission” for the remaining constituent parties of the PDM to tender their resignations.

He was of the view that the only workable option for the PDM was to consider a street movement such as long march, processions and rallies, to build pressure on the ruling government. The PML-N and other parties in the multi-party alliance had enough strength to send the government packing, he claimed.

The PPP had formed a new alliance with Awami National Party, Balochistan Awami Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami, he said, adding that it would be somewhat wrong to assume that the Sindh ruling party was still a part of the PDM.

“With a new alliance, they [PPP] are a separate entity,” Iqbal said, “The formal announcement of their exit was only pending. After April 4, the new formation of the PDM will be more than clear.”

The PML-N leader added that the upcoming PDM meeting would devise a strategy to take on the PTI-led government.

It is pertinent to mention here that cracks had started to emerge in the multi-party anti-government coalition soon after the election for Senate chairman when the PPP insisted on making Yousaf Raza Gillani the opposition leader in the upper house. Gilani, who was the joint candidate of the opposition, had lost the election.

To PPP’s reluctance, the PML-N tried to engage the PDM chief to enforce the PDM’s decision that accorded N-league the opportunity of nominating its candidate for opposition leader seat that was of no avail. The PPP not only rubbished the claim of PML-N leaders that any such decision was ever reached but also had relayed its serious reservations to the PML-N over the nomination of Azam Nazir Tarar, a counsel of its former leader Benazir Bhutto.

The PPP’s move of getting its own candidate as the opposition leader drew PML-N’s ire that had responded with a volley of verbal attacks on the former, calling them “backstabbers and selected.” The PML-N leadership that earlier was seen defending the PPP opposing views in the PDM was now calling them out for allegedly working on the behest of the establishment.

Also read: Maryam accuses PPP of ‘submitting to Baap’ by accepting BAP votes

The PPP on the other hand seemed to have decided to not respond to the PML-N tirade in a tit for tat manner. According to PPP leader Hassan Murtaza, he had recently talked to party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, who had asked them (party leaders) not to react to the PML-N verbal attack.

“The PPP still wants the PDM to remain intact. At first, our decision not to resign from assemblies, to take part in the by-election and later take part in Senate elections were all taken with a pinch of salt, however, later time proved our moves to be correct,” Murtaza added.

The PPP leader expressed hope that the PDM, especially the PML-N, would come around on this one as well. It was in the best interest of the opposition to remain intact, he added.

“The PML-N is wrong in accusing us of trying to broker a deal,” he said, “Even during a breakfast at Jati Umrah that was hosted by Maryam Nawaz, we asked her that you accuse the PPP of a deal but if the PPP is the one aspiring for a deal, [then] what did Muhammad Zubair tried to achieve by meeting the chief of army staff.”

 According to Murtaza, the question was responded with complete silence. He added that the PPP continued the series of questions to the PML-N.

“We asked Maryam if the PPP is to be blamed for growing distances in the PDM, then whom you were referring to when you tweeted that don’t use our shoulder for power politics,” the PPP leader added, claiming that such a question was also responded with silence by Maryam.

It was the PML-N that had started making veiled allegations, he claimed, adding that the former feared that PPP, under the PDM, might strengthen its position in Punjab. “We have been taught by our slain leader Benazir Bhutto, that take as much space as you can in politics. The PDM parties should be happy that we brought four more senators into the opposition benches,” Murtaza said.

The PPP had taken offence to the nomination of Azam Nazir Tarar for the position, he added.


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