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January 6, 2019

Fresh attempts to forge opposition alliance

Top Story

January 6, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman has paced his efforts to bring all the opposition parties on a joint platform.

Maulana Fazl held two meetings with Zardari –first was held informally at the wedding function of the son of renowned anchor Hamid Mir, while the second was held at Fazl’s residence. According to sources, during the meeting Maulana Fazl proposed to Zardari to hold a meeting with Nawaz Sharif so a joint political strategy could to be devised to counter the drive to push the opposition against the wall. Sources said Zardari questioned Fazl as to how a meeting was possible when Nawaz Sharif was in jail. He also sought some time from the JUI-F chief to consult with the party.

After the meeting, JUI-F chief in an informal talk with the media at his residence, said the meeting with Zardari was not scheduled for Saturday and it had no agenda, “We have a consensus that rigging was done in the general elections,” he said. Fazl said he complained to Zardari for not helping to form a grand opposition alliance. He said the opposition succeeded in clinching the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee and now they should also forge a grand alliance. Criticising the government, Maulana Fazl said the decisions of the government are weakening the country. “This government did not have the mandate of the people but only have a fake mandate,” he said. He said due to the economic policies of the government, the dollar has soared against the Pak rupee and country’s foreign exchange reserves have been reduced to half,” he said. He said the Israeli plane landed in Pakistan but it was not made public and people were kept in the dark. In the meanwhile, a spokesman for Asif Ali Zardari denied any mention of Nawaz' during the meeting. "The meeting was held to exchange viewpoints on the political situation of the country," Zardari's spokesman Amir Fida Paracha said. "There was no mention of Nawaz Sharif at the meeting," Paracha added.

Meanwhile, the Chairman Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on the money laundering case was leaked out as a conspiracy and it was the violation of court orders. “They are running the government only by leveling allegations against the Opposition leaders," he said while speaking through a video link on the birth anniversary of the party founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, with the workers from Islamabad. Bilawal said, “the JIT report is being considered a verdict.” He said the JIT compiled its report without ever seeking the responses from the Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Qaim Ali Shah and named them as accused. He said political victimisation is being pursued in the name of accountability, but it cannot stop the democratic struggle of the country.

He said a year has rolled by and yet another elected prime minister was sent home through a judicial process and we are witnessing an unmitigated witch hunting of the Opposition in the name of accountability. “Seldom before, the freedom of expression was stifled to the extent as it was in 2018 and seldom before so many forces and elements played to re-write the political landscape of the country. I say seldom, because it was not entirely new, we have seen it before and we have faced it but ultimately we prevailed,” he said. The PPP Chairman said, “last year we witnessed many developments, there was a general elections and a third in row democratic dispensation. We have seen another civilian transition from a civilian to another so-called civilian government, a new party comes into power or brought into power with certain promises,” he said.

Bilawal said, “We are entering the worst era of authoritarianism. We did not fight for this sham democracy, which is totalitarian in disguise,” he remarked, adding the PPP would continue to fight the threat to its liberties, struggle for a system based on Constitution and it is also the responsibility of the legislature, judiciary, the executive, media and the bars. The chairman PPP said, “although the elections of 2018 were stolen we accepted the results for the sake of political and democratic stability. When I say the people's mandate was stolen it is not a only a hollow statement but the party had set up a committee to examine as to how the elections were manipulated and the mandate of the people was stolen.” He said the PPP's White Paper on Election 2018 raised the issues from holding of controversial census, obstructing the election observers, manipulating the electables, stifling of the media and the voice of dissent and delimitations in violation of laws. The PPP Chairman said there was denial of a level playing field, the mysterious deployment of the army personnel inside the polling stations, mainstreaming of the militant organisations as electoral political parties, the deliberately failure of the RTS system that delayed the announcement of the election result. He said the poling agents were thrown out of the polling stations and that 95 percent of Form 45 did not have the signatures of our polling agents. He said, “the White Paper is exhaustive and has left out no aspect of the electoral process to help the political parties to keep an eye on the manipulators and frustrate them in future.” He questioned as to when the accountability of those, who stole the people mandate, would be carried out.

The chairman PPP said the new government has spent six months of its tenure with fits and starts, with jerks and indecisions and U-turns. “The worst is the new set up continues to display indecision, lack of direction and total absence of results,” he said. He said, “the new year will be the toughest on our economy, and we are deeply concerned as we do not see a capacity to deal with the challenge. The new team has no capacity and are shrugging off the responsibility by blaming the previous governments,” he said. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said from economy to anti-corruption, CPEC, reforms in Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan from human rights to province of South Punjab, they are clueless and indecisive.”

The chairman PPP said the fight against the corruption cannot be won unless some continue to be treated as sacred cows. It is a farce to argue that some institutions are less corrupt than others. Bilawal Bhutto appealed to the judiciary to also look into the reforms within the judicial system. Paying tributes to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Bilawal Bhutto said, “41 years have passed since my grandfather Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s ‘judicial murder’ and today it pains me to say "it is shameful the way the country’s justice system has failed, it is impossible to forget that how the forces of status quo conspired to physically eliminate my grandfather. Although I was not even born when he was executed, yet I feel the trauma as if he was murdered before my eyes,” he said.

Bilawal thanked the workers for standing with Benazir Bhutto in her fight against the dictatorial regimes of Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. He said the efforts are being made to roll back the 18th Amendment and warned that it would have dangerous affects on the federation. He said those who talk about the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law, human rights, raise the issue of restrictions on media, missing persons are considered suspects and this attitude is endangering the federation. “Those raising their voice against injustices are equally patriots,” he said.

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