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Will PML-N join PPP-JUI anti-government movement?

News Analysis |

According to local media reports, leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Nawaz Sharif, who was released two weeks ago on a six-week-long leave on medical grounds has reportedly turned down a request of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to join the opposition’s street agitation against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

The JUI-F chief visited Nawaz Sharif at his residence and inquired about his health and discussed the ongoing political situation in the country. The JUI-Fazl chief had sought the support of the PML-N in the protests announced by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and other opposition parties during a meeting with Nawaz at his Jati Umra residence.

I want to tell him that if he cannot collect funds through the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) then he should leave,” he said, adding that his party cannot give this government any more time as it does not care about the people.

It is important to note here that on April 4, while addressing a ceremony on the 40th death anniversary of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari bashed at the PTI government and threatened to topple it. Mr. Zardari also announced that he would march towards Islamabad along with his party workers to oust the incumbent government. “The time has come that we stand up and save this country,” said Asif Ali Zardari.

Moreover, Mr. Zardari kept on saying that his party won’t give more time to the PTI. “The ‘selected’ prime minister’s bubble has burst. The government does not have funds to run the country. I want to tell him that if he cannot collect funds through the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) then he should leave,” he said, adding that his party cannot give this government any more time as it does not care about the people, therefore, it has decided to march on Islamabad to oust the government.

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Analysts believe that since there are corruption cases pending before the courts against the former president, therefore, he is verbally attacking the government. Mr. Zardari who did not stand by PML-N during the elections of the Prime Minister in 2018 was perceived to be a secret ally of the PTI. But the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe into fake accounts, and now references against him turned him to be a political rival of the government.

However, it deserves merit to be mentioned here that Mr. Zardari and his sister have been given protective bail till 29th April which has actually diffused his anti-government agenda at the moment.

JUI-F chief is making all efforts to bring the PML-N and PPP on the same page, and initiate a mass movement against the government. But Arif Hameed Bhatti, senior journalist and political commentator, in Dr. Moeed Pirzada’s prime-time show Live with Moeed Pirzada said that there was an understanding between the PML-N and those who have the power to give NRO to settle things in a peaceful manner. “Mr. Shahbaz Sharif has left for London to discuss these issues with Nawaz’s sons,” he said. He also argued that since the PML-N had sought some relief and now an NRO (plea bargain) is under consideration, therefore, it won’t like to stand by the PPP or JUI-F.

Read more: Is opposition planning to initiate an anti-government movement?

However, prominent lawyer Arif Chaudhary maintained that Sharifs were able to successfully get relief from courts which suggest they are under no political pressure at the moment. Arif Hameed said that a radical change in Maryam Nawaz’s narrative is a clear indication of the deal which is probably underway. Dr. Pirzada also pointed out that Pakistan’s criminal justice system is unable to punish those who bribe or misuse their authority while holding the public offices.

The article had input by Farah Adeed and edited by Sana Mushtaq.