The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Monday announced to hold an ‘All Parties Conference’ (APC) after Eidul Azha in order to discuss strategies “to get rid of PTI”. But the APC seems unlikely to take place as Shehbaz Sharif has once again refused to meet PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Addressing a joint press conference, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal said that a coordination committee meeting will be held this week to discuss the APC agenda.
The presser was held after a meeting between PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and a three-member PML-N delegation at Bilawal House, Lahore. The PML-N delegation included Iqbal, Khawaja Saad Rafique, and Ayaz Sadiq, while PPP’s Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor, and Hasan Murtaza also attended the meeting.
لاہور: پاکستان پیپلزپارٹی کے چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری سے ملاقات کے لئے مسلم لیگ ن کے وفد کی بلاول ہاؤس آمد
— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) July 20, 2020
Waseem Badami, a prominent Pakistani journalist, told Dr. Moeed Pirzada in his talk-show, Hard Talk Pakistan, that “the opposition was going to do nothing”. Badami believes that there is nothing substantial the opposition can at this moment. “It may remain in the news for a day or so but it is not going to have any impact in the long run,” he said.
Informed sources told GVS that the PML-N president was unlikely to become part of any anti-PTI campaign as it may hurt his relationship with the establishment.
Shehbaz’s limitations to get rid of PTI
Shahbaz Sharif, often considered the establishment’s man, said that his relations with the Chaudhries of PML-Q are almost neutral. He said that there are no feelings of enmity between them anymore but there’s no talk of any joint political strategy with them as yet.
Shehbaz is long known for his pro-establishment views in his party. There have been some reports suggesting his differences with Nawaz and Maryam over the nature of the party’s relationship with the country’s powerful establishment.
Maryam was leading a segment of the party with the slogan of ‘vote ko izat do.’ She slammed the establishment for political engineering and getting favorable verdicts from courts. However, later on, Shehbaz’s approach appeared to have prevailed as the party not only offered unconditional support to amend the law to give extension in service to the Army Chief but also Maryam went silent.
“Shehbaz Sharif is the establishment’s, next blue-eyed man. PM Imran is likely to remain in his seat but Shehbaz is certain to have an invisible role to reorganize his party to become a new force in Punjab,” a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told GVS. Analysts in Islamabad are mulling over the question; is PM Imran and his government are aware of what is going on in national politics? Do they consider Shahbaz Sharif a looming political threat?
Anti-PTI protests and a dharna
This is not for the first time that the PPP and PML-N are planning to convene a Multi-party conference to give a tough time to the ruling party. Back in 2018, after losing the election, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, President of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), threatened to disrupt the political process in the country if the results of General Elections 2018 were not declared “null and void”.
The MMA president chaired the MPC along with the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad. MPC rejected the General Election 2018 and demanded ‘free and fair’ re-election across the country. “The All Parties Conference has completely rejected the July 25, 2018 elections with consensus,” announced Rehman while addressing the media after the PML-N-hosted conference concluded. “We do not consider this election to be the mandate of the public,” said defeated MMA president.
However, he was not fully supported by other opposition political parties. For example, the PPP said that it does not reject the results completely rather it has questions about the electoral process. Later on, the PPP Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his party rejects election results but, at the same time, the PPP was going to play a role of an exemplary opposition in the national assembly. Since the PPP managed to get a simple majority in Sindh and it was interested to form a government in the province. Hence, PPP could not afford to boycott the National Assembly.
Then again in 2019, the JUI-F’s chief announced to topple the government if the premier and his cabinet do not step down. He also said that it was the last protest in Quetta and there was going to be freedom march in the months to come. He said: “This is our last long march and next will be our Freedom March in Islamabad if the PTI government does not resign in August. After holding 14 successful million marches across the country, today we have arrived in Quetta and this sea of people shows what the people of Pakistan want.”
After consultation with the opposition parties, to get rid of PTI, Maulana postponed his proposed Azadi March from August to October. Initially, it was 27th Oct which Pakistan celebrates every year as Kashmir Solidarity Day. After criticism from all walks of life, Maulana changed the date and announced to lead a march in Islamabad on 31st October.
Neither PPP nor PML-N supported the idea of dharna and urged Maulana to keep the gathering limited to a protest. After 13-days long Dharna in the federal capital, the JUI-F’s chief announced to call it off.
It is yet to be seen whether the PML-N President joins the opposition parties get rid of PTI or avoids attending protests citing health issues.