Is Asif Ali Zardari reminding PML-N of army’s significance?

“Miftah Ismail has been saying that the record should be kept under the supervision of the army. Zardari has reminded PML-N of the army,” Fawad Chudhary.

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Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has taken a dig at Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz – one of the main ‘anti-establishment’ opposition parties of the country – saying that PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari has “reminded PML-N of army’s significance”.

Fawad was responding to a statement reportedly given by PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail regarding the recently-held controversial by-poll in Karachi’s NA-249 constituency, which sparked debate about much-needed electoral reforms in the country.

Miftah in his application has requested the chief election commissioner (CEC) to take immediate steps to seize the by-election record including ballot papers of NA-249 by poll. He demanded that election record should be kept under the supervision of Pakistan Army or Rangers to ensure its safety until the final decision about the controversial election results is made.

“Miftah Ismail has been saying that the record should be kept under the supervision of army. Zardari has reminded PML-N of the army,” Fawad wrote on his official twitter handle on Sunday.

While hinting towards the hard-hitting statements made by the PML-N leadership against the state institutions, Fawad said: “That’s why it’s said that think hundred times before speaking.”

The minister added that the respect for the country’s institutions is necessary “as states cannot sustain without them”.

In another tweet, Fawad said PML-N’s refusal to hold negotiations on electoral reforms is very unfortunate.

Fawad said that PML-N’s demand that the reforms should be carried out by ECP instead of parliament show that “they have no understanding of the system and no interest in reforms”.

“Why a party which always came to power through conspiracies would want electoral reforms,” he remarked.

Can PPP and PML-N stay together?

PML-N and PPP have already almost parted ways and informally ended the joint alliance against the government. Although the Pakistan Democratic Movement was created with an apparent purpose to topple Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, yet the main opposition parties i.e. PPP and PML-N now seem to victims of internal fights as a result of ruthless power politics.

The ruling party has persistently argued that this alliance of the opposition parties is “unnatural” and cannot sustain. PM’s Special Assistant Usman Dar said in a talk-show that the alliance is without any ideology and has no potential to threaten the government. “You will soon witness their internal fights,” he said.

Notably, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday mocked PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and said that “there is a family in Lahore who used to get selected in the past”. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gave this statement while talking to the media after meeting with Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq in Lahore.

Similarly, 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”.

Read More: Maryam Nawaz assumes charge of her ‘apolitical’ Instagram account

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.