LAHORE: The two major players in the opposition — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have held crucial talks, where they decided to join hands to stonewall the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s federal budget.
The development came after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif held a meeting on the latter’s invitation at the Sharifs’ Jati Umrah residence on Sunday, where they pondered on a decisive campaign against the PTI government.
Ahead of the meeting with Bilawal, Maryam tweeted: “This and all other decisions in the party are taken after the approval of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shehbaz Sharif and taking the senior leaders into confidence. Discipline and part hierarchy are followed by all including me.”
PPP leaders Qamar Zaman Kaira and Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad accompanied the PPP chairman. The two young leaders agreed not to let the Federal Budget 2019-20 be passed and decided to develop a plan of action in this regard, Geo News reported.
The PPP and PML-N leaders concurred that only upholding the Constitution and staying true to democracy can take the country forward. They also decided to go ahead with their political strategy in line with the spirit of the Constitution.
According to a series of Urdu tweets on PML-N’s official Twitter handle, Bilawal and Maryam had a prolonged discussion on a raft of issues, which included the political situation, the economy, the National Accountability Bureau’s “fake” cases against the party leadership and the references against the judges.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s proposed All Parties Conference was also discussed. Bilawal and Maryam “agreed that the current non-representative government does not have the real mandate of the public”. The Charter of Democracy also came under discussion. Both the leaders considered it “an important document”. On their joint future strategy, protests inside an outside Parliament were discussed. “The fundamental violations of basic rights, freedom of media, attacks on journalists, strict opposition hurdles and censorship for the opposition were also condemned,” the PML-N said.
They also demanded the withdrawal of government references against the judges. The two parties agreed to continue a “full-fledged struggle” for independence of the judiciary and also decided to demand the National Assembly speaker for the production orders of arrested parliamentarians.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the meeting between Maryam and Bilawal Zardari has “no link with democracy”.
In a tweet, she expressed the hope that for satisfaction of courts, the two will give a clear agenda for bringing back absconding brothers of Maryam and other Sharif family members and inform the nation about it. Awan said the nation is fully aware about the harsh reality that both PML-N and PPP have started the process of transferring politics and property to their next generations and this gathering is a step towards achievement of that goal.
Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, the minister for maritime affairs, also criticised the meeting. “I’ve heard the ‘raillu kattas’ are meeting in Punjab today,” Zaidi said of the Bilawal-Maryam meeting. “Maybe she’s meeting one ‘raillu katta’; I just cannot fathom what’s happening,” he added.
On the other hand, Minister of Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, made jibes about the lifestyles of the PPP and PML-N leaders. “The leaders of the poor are stepping off private jets. [They] reached the billion-rupee sultanate in their million-rupee, bullet-proof cars,” Chaudhry said. “As soon as they sit on their designer furniture, they are welcomed with water from France. Afterwards, they talk about inflation and the living standard of the poor.”