The much-hyped All Parties Conference (APC) was held in Islamabad on September 20. The APC was called by the PPP in order to unite the opposition parties against the incumbent government. However, analysts, political commentators, and experts in the country are now carefully mulling over the real target of the APC.
The APC, in its 26-point agenda, has presented a way forward and its basic demands: a) a national alliance in the name of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), b) a probe into allegations against CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, c) resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Government ministers on Sunday also responded to the speeches of former premier Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Zardari at the APC. Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry told the media that one more episode of the Abbu Bachao (save our fathers) campaign had flopped.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Syed Shibli Faraz said that former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif was looking healthy and well, making it clear that the ailment was a pretext to go abroad. Sharif, serving a prison term, is currently out on bail on medical grounds.
Moreover, the minister also pointed out that Nawaz, who now claims to be the champion of democracy, has been the prime minister thrice. “Nawaz Sharif claimed that polls were managed in the past but before making such statements, he should remember that he remained prime minister for three times while Imran Khan had been elected prime minister for the first time,” the minister said.
Similarly, Federal Minister for Marine Affairs Ali Zaidi also said: “Today, Nawaz Sharif has declared war with the entire Pakistani nation! He says that his feud is not with Imran Khan, it is with those who brought [him] to power. [PTI] has come to power with the votes of 17 million people … not with the help of a ‘chit’!”
Earlier, the prime minister ordered to air Nawaz’s speech from London so that “his lies come in front of the nation”.
Does the Opposition want to topple the government?
Dr. Moeed Pirzada, a prominent Pakistani journalist and political commentator, argued in a talk-show on ARY News that the opposition parties do not want to topple the incumbent government. “They are very wise people and they understand the nature of the challenges Pakistan is facing today. The economy is unstable and the government is taking the right steps to fix it. The opposition merely wants to stay relevant and nothing much,” he maintained.
Notably, it is not for the first time that the opposition parties held a conference to end the government. Back in 2019, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman presided over a meeting of multi-conference after the ‘unprecedented’ electoral win of PTI. But soon after the meeting, PPP decided not to reject the elections and formed a government in Sindh. Similarly, the PML-N made all efforts to form its government in Punjab, but of no avail. The MQM-P, PML-Q, and other parties from Balochistan and GDA became the part of the ruling alliance.
Despite all criticism and upright refusal to accept the legitimate right of the present government to rule the country, Maulana was the joint presidential candidate of the opposition parties, except the PPP. Maulana, however, remained unable to show any impressive performance since the lawmakers within the PML-N were not happy over his nomination.
Who was the APC’s real target?
Although Asif Ali Zardari, former president, spoke with great caution, yet he stood by Nawaz Sharif, who appeared to be a new anti-establishment voice from London. Nawaz, a proclaimed offender, has lashed out at the unnamed forces for allegedly controlling the political process and electoral results in the country. He also demanded a probe into allegations against the CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Saleem Bajwa.
Political analysts argue that the APC’s real target was the establishment, not Imran Khan. “Nawaz Sharif broke the ice after almost a year and conveyed a strong message to the deal brokers. His message was clear, loud, and strong. Nawaz wants the establishment not to target his family in Pakistan, as it was decided during the deal under which he was allowed to leave the country,” a reliable source told GVS.
The demand to probe into allegations against Asim Saleem Bajwa, a Chinese trusted man heading the CPEC projects in Pakistan, and his family, conveyed a strong message to the establishment in a quest to seek another deal. Some sources claim that the opposition parties slammed the establishment in order to pressurize it for another, desirable deal.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly said that there would be no NRO for any corrupt politician in Pakistan. “I’ll not give any NRO to anybody,” he said.