Monday September 27, 2021

PDM begins to unravel as ANP bows out

April 07, 2021

PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party (ANP) on Tuesday announced its departure from the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a decision that cast a pall on the PDM experiment which followed weeks of bickering among the opposition alliance’s leadership.

The move came in response to PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s issuance of a show-cause notice to the ANP and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for soliciting votes from the Balochistan Awami Party — a government ally — to get Yousuf Raza Gilani elected as the Senate’s opposition leader.

PPP was given a week to explain shoe-horning Gilani in the slot without first obtaining the consent of parties of the opposition alliance. ANP, on the other hand, was issued a notice for backing the PPP.

The decision to withdraw from the opposition alliance was announced by ANP’s Ameer Haider Hoti and Mian Iftikhar in a news conference in Peshawar. Hoti hit out at what he said were attempts to take the movement in “another direction” and that his party had explained its stance to the PDM leadership, but in spite of that a show-case notice was issued, “which makes it evident that they want to politically harm the ANP”.

Explaining that the party was backed into a corner, Hoti stressed that the “only one who can issue a show-cause notice to the ANP is [party chief] Asfandyar Wali Khan”.

He also said “two or three parties together want to run the affairs of PDM” and “those two parties view the Peoples Party and ANP as obstacles”. He added that if someone is “driven by a personal agenda or political point-scoring, the ANP, at least, cannot be a part of that journey”. Hoti said the ANP is prepared to negotiate with anyone who wants to speak on equal terms, but lashed out at the “desire to treat them as leaders of our party”. And in stark terms, the ANP leader said those who issued the show-cause notice had themselves “announced an unannounced end of the PDM”. “ANP wishes to remove itself from this process of a few parties hijacking the movement,” Hoti said.

He then announced he was withdrawing as the PDM’s vice president, Mian Iftikhar as the movement’s spokesman and Zahid Khan as the deputy general secretary.

Reacting to the development, JUI-F’s Abdul Ghafoor Haideri in a conversation with Geo News said the ANP and PPP’s move caused was a source of laughter for everyone, and criticised the “manner in which one kneels and is sold”. PML-N spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb said PDM’s endeavour is against parties like the BAP and lamented that the PPP received votes from that party and did not take the opposition alliance into confidence. Expressing regret over the ANP’s announcement, she said the show-cause notice was issued not at the directives of the PML-N, but rather the PDM leadership.

The break-up follows weeks of public discord between the PPP and the PML-N. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had wanted its own candidate, Azam Tarar, in the Senate opposition leadership slot and said it was agreed upon in meetings of the PDM brass that the alliance would back Gilani for the Senate chairman slot, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri for the deputy chairman slot and PML-N’s nominee for the opposition leader.

The disagreements, however, went back further. The JUI-F and the PML-N had wanted en masse resignations from assemblies before their planned long march, while the PPP was reluctant, and culminated in PPP’s Asif Zardari linking resignations to Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan, a demand which irked the PML-N, and set off a series of press talks in which the parties subtly rapped each other. But tensions boiled over after Gilani’s election to the Senate opposition leader’s slot, following which the PML-N and JUI-F announced that they would not support him.