PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday said that parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement opposition alliance had agreed on a PML-N candidate for the Leader of the Opposition in Senate position and the decision should "in principal" not be revisited.
Maryam's remarks came during a media briefing alongside PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman after a meeting between the two also attended by Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz.
When the two leaders were asked whether differences have reportedly emerged between PPP and PDM over many issues, including the matter of appointing Yousaf Raza Gillani as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Fazlur Rehman shot down the notion that there is a rift within the alliance.
"PDM is not only united, through mutual consultations we have matters under control. We all have to move ahead forward. The nine parties that have a particular ideology will request the PPP to respect their viewpoint," he said.
The PDM chief said that the alliance will wait for the outcome of the PPP's Central Executive Committee meeting — set to take place in the first week of April — and is also willing to review their recommendations so that the alliance can move forward effectively.
Maryam was asked to respond to whether PML-N's Azam Nazir Tarar and Sadia Abbasi are under consideration for the position or if negotiations will take place over Gillani's nomination.
To this, she said that it was decided "in principle", when PDM leaders met at Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's house, that support for Gillani for Senate chairman, for JUI-F's Abdul Ghafoor Haideri for deputy chairman, and for a PML-N candidate for leader of the opposition will be extended.
She said a win or loss was not discussed as a factor for any change in the decision.
"I am sure [anyone who opposes this] can be made to understand that when a decision in principle is made, there is no need to revisit it," Maryam said.
Fazlur Rehman said that during Maryam's hearing on March 26 with the National Accountability Bureau, the opposition alliance will be present with her in a show of solidarity.
"The apparent reasons cited by NAB have exposed the bureau for the puppet institution it is. It has approached the court for cancellation of [Maryam's] bail on the basis that she speaks against institutions.
"So the institution has been formed not to combat corruption but to serve other institutions," he said.
Fazlur Rehman said that when she appears before NAB on Friday, all of the PDM's workers and leaders will be right there with her.
He went on to say that the workers will number "not thousands, but hundreds of thousands".
It will be decided later who among the leaders will be present, but nonetheless, we will be there and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her, the PDM chief said.
Maryam has been summoned by the anti-corruption watchdog in pursuance of two cases — the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and one pertaining to purchase of land in Raiwind.
In response to a question, the PML-N vice president said that the talks are underway between PPP and PML-N over the NA-249 election in which PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail is a contender. "We will let you know when a decision is reached," she said.
Maryam was of the view that although a long march is very much possible with just JUI-F and PML-N leading the way, "who are very big parties in their own constituencies" and who have "held large events with success before", it would be better for all parties to stand united and represent the people together and so the alliance will look to PPP to join them.
Fazlur Rehman said PPP is a "big party" and even a small party within the alliance, if it were to express reservations, "would be accorded respect and their viewpoint considered".
He said the long march "will InshaAllah take place".
Maryam was also asked to comment on whether the government has begun to "take advantage" of this perceived lack of unity or "miscoordination" between PDM.
To this, the PML-N Vice President responded by saying: "We are striving to keep all parties united. But [in any case] Imran Khan's future is not linked with the PDM. His future and that of his fake government hinges on his own performance."
She said that whatever the inner workings of the PDM, Imran Khan will have to answer for the "incompetence, ineptitude that has swallowed the country whole" and not the opposition alliance.
Maryam said that the PDM will demand an answer to this "incompetence" from the government and will "fully represent and safeguard" the interests of the people. "We will not allow the government to escape from the backdoor," she said.
The PML-N vice president shot down the "shameful lies" that have been reported by some channels regarding differences with Hamza Shahbaz.
She said the Punjab Assembly's Leader of the Opposition participated in the lunch meeting hosted by Fazlur Rehman and had to go away to meet the doctor who is looking after the treatment of her daughter's heart condition.
"A media channel or two ran this baseless news. They should at least fear God before running such big lies," she said.
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