Opposition huddle takes no-trust plans forward

Bilawal, Zardari host Shehbaz, Asad Mahmud at their residence; PPP, PML-N, JUI-F chiefs to meet again today


RAMEEZ KHAN February 23, 2022
PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari being welcomed at the residence of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Feb 5, 2022. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE:

Leaders of three main opposition parties met at the Lahore residence of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday to discuss plans for their anti-government movements, particularly the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to a joint statement issued by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after the meeting, the leadership of the PPP and the PML-N would hold another meeting on Wednesday, which would be attended by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

At the Bilawal House, the PPP chief and former president Asif Zardari hosted PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mehmud. Selected leaders of all the three parties were also present during the talks. According to the joint statement, the discussions centred on the no-confidence motion. “The leaders agree that this government will have to be sent packing” in order to save the masses from the devastation caused by high inflation.

The participants of the meeting also expressed concerns over the increasing lawlessness in the country. They said that the government had failed to protect the lives and properties of the people. They said that the government had tried to “cloak its fascism and dictatorship” by promulgating the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Amendment Ordinance. According to the joint statement, former president Asif Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl and PML-N President Shehbaz will hold another meeting on Wednesday (today) at the residence of the latter.

According to the senior leaders of both the PML-N and the PPP, important decision regarding the no-confidence motion would be taken during the meeting. The meeting at the Bilawal House was attended by central leaders of the PML-N, the PPP and the JUI-F. The PPP delegation included Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood, Faisal Karim Kundi.

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The PML-N delegation included Khawaja Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah and Maryam Aurangzeb, while Akram Khan Durrani of the JUI-F accompanied Maulana Asad Mehmud.

The end goal

According to a PPP leader, who was present in the meeting, the decision as to where to table the no-confidence motion first was not taken yet. However, he was certain the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly would not be against Speaker Asad Qaiser but against the prime minister.

He confirmed that the meeting was mainly about the no-confidence motion. He stressed that there were no disagreements in the opposition camp. The PPP leader also said that the proposed long marches were not discussed at length. “The end goal of all [the parties] is the same, however, every party has the right to propose a plan they think will work the best,” the PPP leader said. He added that the recent huddles between the opposition leaders were meant to zero in on one of the no-confidence motion plans.

When asked about the PPP’s long march plans, he said the PDM had not extended its “support to us, thus far”, adding: “The 27 February long march is purely the PPP activity and will not be affected by the PDM’s decision.” Asked further about the agenda of the talks to be held on Wednesday (today), he said that the leadership of the three opposition parties would discuss the number game. “They would want to see where they stand as one block.”

Responding to yet another question, whether the opposition parties were counting on the support of disgruntled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen, the PPP leader said that “as of now the opposition has the requisite numbers even without the Tareen group”.

Earlier in the day, the PML-N leadership also held a separate meeting. Reports said that PML-N leaders proposed to Shehbaz Sharif to extend a token support to the PPP’s long march, and even address the marchers, when the PPP holds the rally in Lahore, while on way to Islamabad.

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