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September 20, 2020

Govt swings into action as opposition holds APC today

Top Story

September 20, 2020

Govt swings into action as opposition holds APC today

ISLAMABAD: The combined opposition is ready to draw its future line of action to challenge the government in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) hosted All Parties Conference today (Sunday) with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari’s participation through their virtual addresses. The government has also swung into action by warning of legal action if Nawaz Sharif addressed the APC through the video-link.

"The PPP will provide a link on social media where the two leaders will deliver opening remarks," the party said in a statement. It added that following the conference, a media briefing will be held. Responding to a tweet regarding the broadcast being aired on all major social media platforms, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice-President Maryam Nawaz said: “We are doing that Insha'Allah.”

Earlier, the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gave a formal invitation to the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman during a meeting at the latter's residence, sources informed the Geo News. During the meeting, Senator Abdul Kareem, Shah Owais Noorani, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Akram Durrani and Maulana Ataur Rehman were present. Following the meeting, Bilawal said that a very "wholesome" and "detailed" discussion took place between both parties. He said that Fazlur Rehman had accepted his invitation to attend the conference. "We will hold a joint press conference following the APC and our next course of action will be announced then," he told reporters.

Bilawal also spoke to Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Akhtar Mengal to inquire after his health and to thank him for his support. Bilawal expressed his gratitude for Mengal's decision to send a delegation of the party for participation in the APC.

Meanwhile, the PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed that APC will be attended by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Pervaiz Rashid, Maryam Nawaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah and Amir Muqam. Apart from the JUI-F, ANP, PkMAP, National Party, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) will also attend the APC. However, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has refused to attend the Conference.

The announcement of live broadcast of the APC by the opposition leaders followed a warning by the Prime Minister Imran Khan's aide on political communication Shahbaz Gill to the PML-N that if Nawaz's address is aired on social media, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and other laws will be used to take action against him. Gill said that it was not possible that an "absconding criminal" takes part in political activities and gives speeches. "The Sharif family can tell nothing but lies. They are such (habitual) liars that they even lied about a disease," he said. The Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz questioned the real status of Nawaz Sharif's health after it was announced he will deliver opening remarks in a live address during the opposition's APC. Shibli Faraz said that Nawaz should not consider the people "fools". "I have heard that Nawaz Sharif will deliver an address via video link. When he has to appear before the court he claims he is ill and now all of a sudden he is fit for politics," Shibli said at a press conference.

Adviser to PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said that according to Pemra regulation, “an absconder cannot address a press conference”. Faraz said that the opposition's All Parties Conference would be a gathering of “accused and losers” that aims to spread chaos in the country.

Meanwhile, PPP stalwart Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the APC will chalk out the final plan to oust the “hollow” government. “It is clear the government knows fully well how hollow it is from within,” the PPP leader said. “The crutches it is leaning on will not save the government. The real support comes from the people,” he said at a press conference. Kaira said that keeping the government’s two-year performance as a “charge-sheet”, the entire country and all political parties “rightfully view” the government to have “failed in every sector”. “Not only have they gone back on all their promises, but they have also in fact, put the country into reverse gear and have snatched away any existing freedoms, making life difficult for citizens,” Kaira said. He said that a joint action plan for the future is necessary to be developed. “Every party has its own viewpoint, but a joint action plan will enable us to rid the country of this government.”

Kaira said that the government “can be seen panicking”. “If they were so confident, they wouldn’t have been scrambling to push out the same tired, old narrative of blaming the opposition (for the country’s problems).”

To a question, whether resignations by government representatives will be considered as an option and if the PPP government will “sacrifice Sindh” in the process, Kaira said: “People say the PPP will not sacrifice the Sindh government for this purpose, but you must bear in mind we are rightfully saying the government has failed.” “It is standing on the crutches and once it is toppled, it will shatter,” he said. Kaira said the PPP will “perform even better and secure more seats”. “We reject the notion that the PPP is not making concrete decisions over such fears.” Kaira said that in the past when an APC was held, it was on the issue of Kashmir, or to demand better governance or economic reforms.

“We never sought to topple the government. We told Imran Khan we will support him, requested him to sign a charter of economy, despite all the name-calling. But now that there is a 100 percent failure, there is no other option,” he said.