PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah revealed Monday that former president Asif Ali Zardari, during the last Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) meeting, had said he is weak and can not “battle the establishment”.
The PML-N leader, speaking on Geo News’ programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath, said he was unable to understand what Zardari meant by that statement.
The PML-N leader was speaking about the key PDM meeting from last week during which Opposition parties were unable to achieve a breakthrough on the issue of resignations from the Parliament before the long march. The PPP was the only party part of the PDM alliance that objected to resigning from the assemblies.
Following the meeting, the PML-N and the PPP remained at crossroads over the the appointment of the leader of the Opposition in the Senate, with both parties saying they deserve to appoint a member of the upper house from within their ranks.
Rana Sanaullah said the Opposition alliance had decided that the office of the leader of the Opposition would be set aside for the PML-N. “During Zardari’s speech, someone came inside [his room] and said that there is chaos outside. After that, Zardari changed his stance,” he said.
Following the disturbance, according to Rana Sana, Zardari said he is weak and cannot fight the establishment on his own. “I have only one son, and no one else.”
Sana said PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz was upset over some words of the former president’s speech, adding that the PPP co-chairman even apologised to Maryam Nawaz for it. Speaking on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) summoning Maryam, he said it was a tactic of the “NAB-Nizai nexus”. “NAB should avoid issuing political press releases,” he said.
‘Not a big issue’
Meanwhile, in the same show after Sana, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said the government will not benefit from the differences within the Opposition’s ranks.
“To say that we don’t need anyone, doesn’t send a good message,” said Kaira, referring to the recent remarks by the PDM leadership.
Backing his party’s co-chairman, the PPP leader said Zardari has spent 13-14 years behind bars and was not afraid of serving jail time. “We are not a war with our institutions […] We are struggling to keep the institutions in their constitutional limits,” Kaira said, speaking about the Opposition’s aims.
Kaira said the PML-N had its leader of the Opposition both in the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly. “The matter of the leader of the Opposition in the Senate is not a huge issue,” he said.
Zardari asks Nawaz to come back
Sources and media reports said Zardari during the meeting asked Nawaz to return to Pakistan before the joint opposition could go with the nuclear option of resigning from the assemblies in order to mount pressure on the PTI-led government.
The crucial session of the PDM was held amid divisions within the alliance over the issue of submitting resignations from the assemblies at a time when its planned long march was just two weeks away.
Zardari, who like Nawaz addressed the meeting virtually, reportedly told the PML-N chief: “Mian sahab, we will hand over the resignations to you when you return home.”
Nawaz has been living in London since November 2019 after he was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment.
Zardari further said if Nawaz wanted the opposition parties to resign en masse, “then not only us, but everyone will have to go to jail”.
Talking about this month’s hotly contested Senate elections, Zardari said the opposition parties had challenged the government in the polls but regretted that PML-N Senator-elect Ishaq Dar, who is living in the UK in self-exile, had not participated in the voting, according to reports.
“Nawaz Sharif sahib, return to the country along with Ishaq Dar; we will fight together,” the PPP leader was quoted as saying during the meeting.
When asked to comment on Zardari’s remarks, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, without confirming or denying the reports, said they had been “leaked”.