Joint Opp to pitch consensus candidate in presidential poll


–PML-N leadership refuses to endorse Aitzaz Ahsan’s candidature, says his conduct during previous govt’s tenure was ‘objectionable’ 

–Ahsan Iqbal says party will support candidate named after consensus between all Opp parties or it will field Abdul Qadir Baloch for office


LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have reportedly agreed to bring a consensus candidate of the joint opposition after the former refused to lend support to PPP’s nominee Aitzaz Ahsan for the post of President of Pakistan.

Informed sources told Pakistan Today that a PML-N meeting chaired by Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday had rejected renowned lawyer and senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan as opposition’s candidate for president, saying that the party had not taken PML-N into confidence before announcing Ahsan’s candidature. Moreover, Aitzaz Ahsan was on the forefront to divide the opposition during the 2014 sit-in protest by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against the then PML-N government, the meeting participants observed.

It was further decided that the presidential candidate would be nominated after consensus among all parties that form the ‘grand opposition alliance’. In case no consensus is reached on the issue, the PML-N leadership decided to nominate Abdul Qadir Baloch for the office.

Moreover, PPP senior leaders Khursheed Shah and Raza Rabbani met a PML-N delegation comprising former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, Ayaz Sadiq and Rana Tanveer on Tuesday evening to discuss the issue.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Ahsan Iqbal said that the opposition desires to pitch a joint candidate for the post of president. However, he said that there will be more dialogue between the opposition after Eidul Azha.

Farhatullah Babar has said that Aitzaz Ahsan is not the final candidate, Ahsan said, adding that speculations regarding the presidential candidate should be avoided. If opposition fails to unite, the ruling party will benefit, he added.

The leaders of the joint opposition alliance will meet in Murree on August 25.

The PPP had earlier unilaterally nominated Aitzaz Ahsan as its presidential candidate to contest against PTI’s Arif Alvi.

A day earlier, Shehbaz Sharif was notified as Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly.

The PML-N is ahead of PPP in numerical strength in the electoral college for presidential elections, hence the PML-N has the right to field its own candidate for the run of the top constitutional position in the parliamentary system, said a party source.

The fissures in the opposition’s ‘grand alliance’ erupted when the PPP refused to vote for the PML-N president as the opposition’s candidate for the leader of the house (prime minister) “due to the harsh language used by Shehbaz Sharif against the top PPP leadership in the past”. The rift has since widened and the effect has spilled over to the Upper House of the parliament where the PML-N has threatened to launch a no-confidence motion against incumbent Opposition Leader in Senate, Sherry Rehman of the PPP.

The PPP had refrained from voting in the election held on August 17 and as a result, Imran sailed through the contest after bagging 176 votes. In a major embarrassment for the joint opposition, Shehbaz received just 96 votes.

Moreover, the PPP also refused to vote for Hamza Shehbaz for the post of Punjab chief minister, after which the slot slipped on to PTI’s Sardar Usman Buzdar.

On the other hand, PTI leadership has contacted Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leadership to gather support for their presidential candidate.

PTI’s presidential candidate Arif Alvi met with Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Tuesday.

After the meeting, the two political parties announced continued support for each other ahead of the presidential elections.

MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that the party will continue to cooperate with the PTI as witnessed in the National Assembly too.

Siddiqui, in his joint press conference with Alvi, said that PTI and MQM-P have an agreement, as per which they will support each other within the party remits.

The MQM-P leader said that they have not disappointed Alvi earlier and do not intend to in future.

Siddiqui said that the party hopes that issues of Karachi will be resolved with time. Arif Alvi said that the PTI presented its stance before the MQM-P, adding that resolving the issues of Karachi is the necessity of the hour.

In relation to the matters of local government and its authority, Alvi said that the PTI will support the MQM-P.

He further said that he would perform better than the previous presidents in case he gets elected.


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