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Shahbaz calls on Zardari, Bilawal in Karachi: PML-N, PPP agree on APC, Ehtesab, anti-govt drive

By Zia Ur Rehman
September 03, 2020

Shahbaz calls on Zardari, Bilawal in Karachi: PML-N, PPP agree on APC, Ehtesab, anti-govt drive

KARACHI: The top leadership of the PML-N and PPP decided to join forces against the government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and termed the recent arrests of leaders from the two opposition parties as political vendetta.

This was decided during a meeting between PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition, Shahbaz Sharif, and PPP Co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari at the Bilawal House, Karachi, on Wednesday. Both the parties agreed to announce the date for an All Parties Conference (APC) in consultation with the like-minded opposition parties for which the Rahber Committee meeting is being held today (Thursday).

According to sources, the PML-N leaders suggested consultation and coordination with all the like-minded parties in the parliament to jointly resist the government to prevent it from high-handed tactics through NAB, sources said.

The top opposition leaders were in consensus that all the constitutional options would be used to get rid of the incumbent ineligible government, as its failures and incompetence were tormenting the country and the people.

They announced to renew their commitment to adhere to democratic principles in the light of the Charter of Democracy (CoD), signed between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif some 14 years ago. Both the parties stressed that the 1973 Constitution should be implemented in its letter and spirit, as the constitution is the only way forward to a brighter future for Pakistan. They agreed to work together for the supremacy of the Constitution, independent courts and free media and the protection of the constitutional and democratic rights of the people. They discussed the overall situation in the aftermath of the heavy monsoon rains and flooding, which has posed serious problems for the people.

Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on the occasion, said that it was important for political parties to take measures for climate change and the extreme weather conditions being faced by Pakistan, including Karachi. He stated that political parties have to put their differences aside and must not use calamities for political point-scoring. He said that people were looking for relief due to bad governance, extensive loadshedding, crippling inflation and an alarming lack of clarity about stated goals on foreign policy, rising debt, misuse of parliament and the abuse of fundamental rights.

A joint post-meeting press conference was addressed by Farhatullah Babar, Syed Naveed Qamar, Ahsan Iqbal, Maryam Aurangzeb and Aajiz Dhamrah. The PPP and PML-N leaders said a meeting of the Rehbar Committee of the opposition parties would be held tomorrow (Thursday), followed by an All Parties Conference (APC). PPP's Naveed Qamar said it was the most opportune time for the opposition to struggle and get rid of the PTI governemnt. He expressed gratitude to the leader of the opposition for visiting Karachi to express solidarity during the testing times.

PML-N's Ahsan Iqbal said the federal government should have announced a substantial aid package to support the rain-hit economy in Sindh in consultation with the provincial government. This PTI government has only given bad governance and destroyed the economy of the country, he claimed. The opposition leaders said that the government's accountability process was highly discriminatory and that no one affiliated with the ruling party was being held accountable.

Farhatullah Khan Babar pointed out at media reports against a special assistant to the prime minister, and said that the allegations are very serious which must be investigated at the highest level. It was surprising that the government, NAB and the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister himself were silent after the news came to light, he added. The former senator said that the issue of missing persons had also turned highly serious. The process had started during the Musharraf regime and the opposition had rejected a piece of legislation aimed at legalizing enforced disappearances.

Earlier, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s central president, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, arrived in Karachi for a day-long visit to the metropolis ravaged by rains and prolonged power outages last week. He was accompanied by party Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and held a meeting with PML-N leaders at the Karachi airport's lounge.

Shahbaz visited various rain-affected areas of District Malir and Nazimabad and met the people. He also visited Baldia Town, his National Assembly constituency, from where he had lost to Federal Minister Faisal Vawda with a small margin in the 2018 general elections. Shahbaz also visited the Edhi Centre and met with Faisal Edhi.

While talking to the media at the airport, Shahbaz advised the prime minister not to politicise the problems being faced by the people of Karachi and instead help them. He also said that the federal government should consult with the provincial government over the relief operations in the port city. "After the destruction in Karachi due to [recent spell of] rains, everyone must work with unity. Politics should not be done when Karachi is under water,” said the former Punjab chief minister.

The opposition leader also questioned where the billions of rupees funds announced by the federal government for Karachi were. Earlier, before departing from Lahore, the former Punjab chief minister spoke to the Geo News and said he had come to Karachi with a "message of solidarity" for the people of Sindh.

Speaking about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz said that he was undergoing medical treatment and would return to the country without delay as soon as his doctors allowed it.