Former finance minister Ishaq Dar has admitted that he had told PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari that no discussion could take place on the nominee for the slot of the Senate opposition leader.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dar confirmed that the former president had spoken with him on the phone.
“I refused to speak on the matter with Zardari sahib when he tried to contact Mian sahib [PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif] to persuade him to accept PPP's Yousuf Raza Gilani's nomination,” he said.
“I turned down his [Zardari's] suggestion that the PML-N supremo should be informed about the matter as the decision about the slots of the Senate chairman, deputy chairman and leader of the opposition had already been made in a meeting of the PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement],” he added.
“Besides, I told him [Zardari] it wasn’t appropriate for me to give Mian Sahib a new message from you.”
The former finance minister, who has been living in self-exile in London, said the PDM leadership had already decided that the office of the Senate chairman would go to the PPP, deputy chairman to the JUI-F and the leader of the opposition to the PML-N.
However, the opposition was stunned when the government backed-candidates – incumbent Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and deputy chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi – defeated Gilani and JUI-F’s Maulana Ghafoor Haideri, despite lacking the required numbers on paper.
Similarly, the government had more numbers in the National Assembly yet its candidate, ex-finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh who was unceremoniously removed on March 29, was defeated by Gilani and it had ultimately forced Prime Minister Imran Khan to take a vote of confidence from the assembly at the midway of his constitutional term of five years.
Dar’s candid admission has come after a senior PPP senator, requesting anonymity, had claimed that PML-N lawmakers were publically “telling a lie” that their party would have given the office of the leader of the opposition in the Senate to the PPP had it asked for it before nominating Gilani and allegedly securing the slot with the help of the “powers that be”.
“Zardari sahib tried to reach Mian sahib but Dar sahib told him that no discussion could take place on the issue,” the PPP lawmaker told The Express Tribune a few days ago.
The PPP senator added all that the PML-N did was that it finalised Senator Azam Nazir Tarar’s name for the slot, informed the PPP about it and started the process of filing papers in Senate even before his party did.
The PPP leader had further said the party leadership had recorded its protest over Tarar’s nomination, especially, over him being a counsel for the accused in the Benazir Bhutto murder case but the PML-N leaders maintained that “it was a settled issue for them and they could not talk on it”.
Dar revealed that Zardari had also suggested that the PML-N should consider changing the candidate for the Senate opposition leader over his association with the accused in the Benazir murder case.
He added that he had told Zardari that “it wasn’t possible either”.
The PML-N leader said Tarar was a professional lawyer, who had represented two policemen in their appeal against their conviction in a murder case.
“There are always two sides arguing a case before the courts. Tarar had not contested the case on behalf of the PML-N but in his professional capacity,” he added.
During the PDM meeting on March 16, Zardari had demanded Sharif, who is in London for medical treatment, to return to Pakistan.
He had also raised the issue of the absence of Dar from the Senate election session and told the PDM leadership that the leaders should be prepared to go to jails in their struggle.
Apart from Sharif’s return, the meeting had witnessed heated exchanges on tendering resignations from assemblies and defeat of the opposition candidates in the election for Senate top slots.
The PPP had disagreed with the proposal of linking long march against the government with resignations from the assemblies and sought time to reply, saying it would discuss the matter in its central executive committee (CEC).
Then came March 26 when Gilani was officially appointed the Senate opposition leader, hours after the PPP filed the application for his candidacy.
Subsequently, the war of words between the PML-N and the PPP escalated and they both have not only used harsh language against each other but hurled allegations that have left the anti-government alliance in shambles.
Though the PPP leadership is apparently not in favour of resigning from the assemblies, it is expected to convene its CEC meeting after April 4 and formally inform the PDM about its decision on resignations from the assemblies and long march against the government.
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