Monday May 23, 2022

PML-N, PPP war of words continues over Gilani’s Senate win

By News Desk
March 28, 2021

LAHORE/KARACHI: A day after the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Yousuf Raza Gilani was declared as the Senate’s opposition leader behind the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) back, the two parties’ public war of words continued on Saturday, leaving a question mark on their alliance.

On Friday, Gilani was notified as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, after the PPP managed to garner support from several parties, including four independent candidates the PML-N says are affiliated with the government-aligned Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). The PML-N on the other hand, wanted its own candidate, Azam Tarar, for the slot, and there was PDM’s consensus on the pick.

PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Ahsan Iqbal strongly criticised the what they hinted was the PPP’s ‘betrayal’ for a “minor and inconsequential” office and its new status as a “selected” party, while PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said he chose not to respond to their rhetoric but pointedly said he coined the term “selected” and knew better who it applied to.

In a news conference, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz lashed out at the PPP for “sacrificing everything” for a “minor, inconsequential office” and that she was glad that “a visible line has been drawn”, Geo News reported.

“On one side there are those who are sacrificing their own wellbeing for the public and its right to rule, and are not willing to show any weakness—on the other side are those who have sacrificed all their principles for the smallest of gains; who are willing to forego the law and the Constitution. I am glad that this line has been drawn and that everyone recognises who is standing where,” she said.

When asked what her party’s strategy would now be; what holds for the future of the PDM; and if the events of a day earlier marked the PPP’s departure from the PDM, Maryam Nawaz desisted from giving a definitive answer, but made her displeasure known.

“I am waiting for PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rahman to make his position on this matter public. However, I deeply regret that despite understanding the situation and despite having the wisdom, you [Gilani] have dealt a massive blow to democracy, our cause and the public’s struggle for their right to rule for a very minor and inconsequential office.” “I also feel this damage has been done primarily to you, because the people are watching who is standing where and who is continuing to struggle,” she continued. “This is not the PDM’s defeat, of which the PML-N remains a part. It is the defeat of the people who sacrificed their principles for an inconsequential office,” Maryam said.

In response, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said PML-N’s candidate Azam Tarrar, was a “controversial” person. In a press conference in Karachi which followed Maryam’s, the PPP chairman, lamented “a political party was making stubborn statements and taking a hardline stance”—forcing PPP leaders to believe their party was being forced to the wall.

“How do you expect, given that we have the majority, that I ask my party members to make PML-N’s Azam Nazeer Tarar Leader of the Opposition and not Yousuf Raza Gilani?” he asked.

Bilawal said it was a parliamentary tradition and a historic fact that the single largest party in the Senate had the right to get its candidate elected as Senate chairman and Leader of the Opposition.

“Everyone had aspired for Yousuf Raza Gilani to be the Senate chairman, however, there should have had no reservations in him getting elected as the Leader of the Opposition,” he said.

Responding to a question, Bilawal said he would like PDM to remain united as he had laid the foundation for it. “I do not want to harm [the coalition’s unity] so I will not respond to Maryam Nawaz’s statement.”

The PPP chairman said he had coined the term “selected”—and he knows when to use it. Bilawal advised PML-N leadership to scrutinise people in their ranks and probe who was giving them the wrong advice to fight PPP. “We can fight against this government only by staying together.”

Moreover, he said their struggle against the election of Senate chairman would continue, as he thanked Awami Nation Party (ANP) and Jamat-e-Islami for their support in getting Gillani the office of the Senate Opposition leader.

“Our struggle against the Senate chairman election will continue and we will use our legal right. We will file for a judicial review against [the IHC court] verdict,” he said.—News Desk