Has PDM softened its anti-govt stance?
November 9, 2020 03:44 PM
Will the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement launch a campaign to oust the PTI-led government without delay or allow it to serve out its mandated term?
Likewise, will the opposition leaders name the army chief and the ISI director general in their speeches at the future public meetings or refer them as ‘establishment’?
These questions have arisen after a meeting of the heads of the alliance constituent parties at the residence of PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry in Islamabad on Sunday.
Media reports suggest that there are differences among the parties on these issues and the matters would now be discussed in sessions to be held in days and weeks ahead.
Although the nascent alliance has so far been calling for the ouster of the government, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is also PML-N vice president, has been quoted as saying in an interview: “There was an agreement today that the issue is not the selected, but the selectors”
Mr Abbasi, whose father was a minister in the cabinet of Gen Ziaul Haq, further said Nawaz Sharif had given a basic message that the main objective of the PDM was to “change the system and not the removal of the present government”.
Ostensibly this means that now the target will be the establishment (or the selectors), not the PTI government (the selected).
The PPP leaders who represented the party at Sunday session are reported to have supported the idea that the government and the assemblies should be allowed to complete their constitutional term.
The PPP, Qaumi Watan Party and the Awami National Party were of the view that the COAS and the ISI chief should not be named in speeches.
PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the harshest critic of the PTI government, is of the view that if president, prime minister or other political beings can be named in various contexts, there is no harm in taking the names of army chief and the ISI boss.
Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been quoted as saying that if the individuals have to be named, the matter would have to be decided at the PDM’s meeting.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has already said in an interview that he was shocked when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had named COAS and ISI chief in his address to the PDM’s public meeting in Gujranwala.
As for the veracity of allegations of their alleged role in the ouster of the three-time former premier, the PPP chairman said the PML-N must have proofs in support of his grievance
Some other PPP leaders have also repeated the same point of view.
However, there is little possibility of the PML-N offering any proof to substantiate Mr Sharif’s allegations.
Former prime minister’s spokesperson Muhammad Zubair (who is a former Sindh governor) has been quoted as saying that his party was not standing in a court of law where it should produce proofs. He insisted that whatever Mian Nawaz Sharif had said was a fact.
The PDM, which has already held public meetings in Gujranwala, Karachi and Quetta, is now scheduled to hold public meetings in Peshawar on Nov 22, in Multan on Nov 30 and in Lahore on Dec 13.
The narrative coined by Mr Sharif is the subject of discussions at various fora. The reaction is divided.
Disgruntled PML-N leader Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch has quit the party as a protest against his former leader’s utterances.
Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, another senior leader of the PML-N, also left the party on Saturday accusing Nawaz Sharif of “betraying all those who stood by him through testing times”.
“From today, Nawaz Sharif is our political opponent,” said Nawab Zehri while announcing his resignation from the PML-N’s Central Executive Committee. “I’ll chalk out the future course of action after consulting my friends and aides.”
According to some reports, presidents of three district organizations of the PML-N in Balochistan have also parted ways with the party.
Some party leaders in KP have demanded that the former prime minister should change his stance against the army chief and the ISI boss.
However, party leaders in Punjab are united behind Mr Sharif.
Will the party that in the past has always been an ally of the establishment remain united will be seen when the government tightened the noose on them. This will be a test of the loyalty of its adherents.