In a fresh start, Bilawal meets Fazl

PPP chairman, JUI-F chief discuss joint opposition strategy in parliament against EVMs, amended NAO

News Desk November 12, 2021
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and JUI-F Amir Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressing the media in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB


Opening a fresh chapter of ties with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday met with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who also heads the opposition alliance, and discussed a joint strategy on electronic voting machines (EVMs) bill and the amended accountability law in parliament.

The PPP chairman visited the JUI-F chief’s residence in Islamabad accompanied by senior leaders Yousuf Raza Gilani and Qamar Zaman Kaira.

According to the PPP, Bilawal inquired after the JUI-F chief's health and discussed the country's political situation with him. He told Fazl that he was a senior politician and they have had ties for three generations now.

During the meeting, which is being viewed as a major political development, the two leaders discussed and expressed concern over high inflation in the country.

The PPP chairman said a joint strategy in parliament on EVMs bill and the accountability law could lead to “more successes”.

“The government's policies can only be foiled through parliament," Bilawal was quoted as saying.

He said the recent defeats of the government in parliament were major achievements for the opposition.

Speaking to the media after the meeting alongside the JUI-F chief, the PPP chairman said it was another success for the joint opposition that the government had to cancel the joint session of parliament summoned for Thursday.

"The prime minister was forced to run away because all political parties in parliament were united and present."

He added that the opposition had thwarted the government’s plan to amend the accountability law, introduce EVMs and undermine the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) so far.

“We hope that we will fail every plan of theirs [government] in the future as well."

Bilawal said he was “very happy” to discuss various issues with Fazl.

On the occasion, the JUI-F chief said the opposition was playing a united role in parliament considering the difficulties being faced by the nation.

Read More: PDM announces anti-govt rallies, long march

On electoral reforms, Fazl said the opposition was not ready to accept the government’s suggestions at any cost.

He added that if the government carried out legislation through a false majority, the opposition would consider it as dictatorial action. “This is not the way of parliament."

On the question of a no-confidence motion against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, the JUI-F chief said the matter had not come under discussion during the meeting and the issue would be taken up at the right time.

Both Bilawal and Fazl said the matter of the PPP returning to the PDM fold was also not discussed during the meeting.

This was their first meeting after the PPP quit the PDM in April this year in the wake of a show-cause notice being issued to it for nominating its leader Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate in violation of the “unanimous decision” of the alliance.

In August, the JUI-F chief had accused the PPP of trying to "stab the opposition movement in its back". In September, the PPP had asked the JUI-F chief to refrain from "further dividing" the opposition.

‘PPP is not joining PDM’

The PPP has no plan of re-joining the opposition alliance PDM, PPP Information Secretary Faisal Kareem Kundi said, dispelling the impression that the meeting between PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Falzur Rehman was held for reuniting the opposition parties against the government.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Kundi said, “The PPP will stand by other opposition parties against the government, only within the assemblies.

“We have no plan of becoming a part of the alliance till today.”

He said that he did not see his party joining the PDM in the foreseeable future.

“The PPP believes in parliamentary struggle, and for that purpose the party will extend its all-out support to those who they share benches with, in assemblies.”

He said that with elections on the horizon, it was also in the best interest of the party to focus on connecting with its voters and supporters.

The PDM, with its back-to-back plans of rallies and meetings, had even earlier drawn the attention of the party away from political campaigning for itself. “As PDM is not an election alliance, all parties even within will have to go their separate ways in the run-up to elections,” he said.

Kundi said during the meeting between Bilawal and Fazl, there was no discussion about the PDM. “Maulana has good terms with Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.”

He said both the leaders talked about in-house struggle against the government and the ever-evolving situation in Afghanistan. “Time and again opposition has proved that it can out vote and outnumber the government.”


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