JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of opposition alliance the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), on Tuesday said he was not expecting the PPP to seek support from the senators of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) to elect its leader of the opposition in Senate.
“We weren’t expecting that they [PPP and ANP] would make BAP their Baap [father],” the PDM chief replied to a reporter’s question. The BAP is considered to be the brainchild of the security establishment, which the PDM blames for the current political morass.
It also emerged that PPP and ANP leaders have been removed from the PDM’s official WhatsApp group after they resigned from the alliance’s positions and delivered resignations to Fazl’s residence. The PDM chief claimed that he was unfamiliar with “WhatsApp and other such things”.
Serious differences emerged between the PPP and the PML-N when the former appointed Yousuf Raza Gilani as the leader of the opposition in Senate, apparently, in violation of what had earlier been agreed upon in a PDM meeting.
The turmoil between the two had deepened when PDM issued an “explanation letter” to the PPP and the ANP and when five opposition parties formed a separate bloc of 27 opposition senators in Senate. Resultantly, the PPP and the ANP parted ways with the PDM by submitting their leaders’ resignations from all posts of the 10-party antigovernment alliance which was formed in September 2020 to out the government and curtail the role of the establishment in politics.
To a question, the Maulana said the departure of a couple of parties did not mean that the alliance was over. He added that the PDM was not just formed to contest elections as it would continue its fight against the severe economic crisis. The JUI-F chief said the PDM’s was correct in seeking an explanation from the PPP and the ANP.
“Though there is no doubt that they have parted ways, but I am pending the decision on their resignations,” he replied to another question.
“The PDM is giving them an opportunity to give priority to Pakistan and its people instead of making decisions at a level that doesn’t suit them,” the Maulana said.
“The nation is with the PDM and it will take make decisions like resigning from assemblies and initiating a long march after Ramzan,” he added.
“The PDM will stay in the field and there will be no compromise or change on its pace of moving ahead.”
The Maulana claimed that the selection of the candidates for the posts of the chairman, deputy chairman and leader of the opposition in Senate was decided in writing with consensus.
“It was an organisational requirement to seek an explanation when the decisions were violated. PDM sought an explanation from the parties against whom it had complaints,” he explained.
Addressing a news conference after a PDM meeting, Fazl said he had always respected former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani of the PPP and he had a life-long association with him. “The PPP did injustice with Gilani by nominating him for the post of opposition leader,” he added. When asked about the PDM announcing its decision about the resignations and the, long march, the JUI-F chief said these issues would be discussed in the steering committee and central meeting of the alliance.
Fazl said the PDM had protected the dignity and self-respect of its constituent parties. “The political stature and experience of both the parties — the PPP and the ANP — required that they should have responded to their colleagues in a dignified manner,” the Maulana said.
“Unnecessarily making it a matter of self-respect was, perhaps, not in line with the political requirement.” The JUI-F chief said the two parties could have asked to call a PDM meeting or a meeting of its steering committee.
“But they didn’t do so and opted to issues statements in the media and tore apart the PDM explanation letter,” the alliance’s chief lamented.
“The PDM is a serious forum; a national-level alliance to achieve serious goals and it was not formed to fight over a position.”
He recalled that there were many occasions where all the parties could not fully agree to some points but they were convinced with reasoning and proper arguments in subsequent meetings.
“Pakistan’s politics and democracy was our focus and that is why this forum [PDM] was formed,” he said, adding that the PPP and the ANP still had time to review their decisions and contact the alliance.
However, the Maulana regretted that the PPP and the ANP had formally announced parting ways with the PDM and sent resignations of their party leaders who were office-bearers of the alliance. “We know that they have parted ways with the PDM but we are still saying that they should review their decisions as the alliance is ready to hear them out.”
The Maulana avoided answering several questions, saying there was a need to develop political maturity for achieving greater goals and that was the need of the hour.
Deflecting another question about harsh tone adopted by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his news conference, the Maulana said: “There should be some difference between a 70-year-old and a 35-year-old man.”
The JUI-F chief showed a lenient approach towards both the parties during his news conference even after expressing several times that there was no doubt that they have parted ways with PDM and submitted their resignations.
He along with PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal laughed off PPP’s allegation that Abbasi and Iqbal were responsible for PDM’s disintegration. In response to another question, the PDM chief said that there was no harm if an electoral alliance was formed among the PDM parties, saying political unity in the future would be fruitful.
He, subsequently, advised all the party leaders to avoid giving statements and skipped giving an answer to the PPP’s reservation as to why the PML-N, the PML-Q and the PTI came on the same page to elect their senators in Punjab unopposed.
He said the statement was being issued with the consent of all PDM parties, including those who could not participate in the meeting. With a proper organisational structure, he said, the PDM was a 10-party alliance where all parties are equal.