Cracks emerge between PPP, PML-N after no-trust motion failure

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–Khawaja Asif says mistrust between two parties growing, more fissures to emerge in coming days

–Sherry Rehman seeks explanation from PML-N over Asif’s remarks, says it’s tantamount to shattering alliance

–PPP’s Nafisa Shah says PML-N had been unable to keep its senators in check

ISLAMABAD: Cracks have emerged between two major opposition parties – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – as a top leader from the former went public with accusations and suspicions against what he called the “dubious” role played by the leadership of latter to “save the PPP government in Sindh”.

The PML-N leader’s remarks come in the wake of the opposition parties’ joint effort to remove Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, which failed badly despite the fact that the joint opposition had a clear majority in the upper house of the parliament.

It was none other than former defence and foreign minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif, a close confidant of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who predicted more fissures emerging in the opposition alliance in the coming days.

“You will soon see fissures in the alliance. Mistrust between the two parties [PML-N and PPP] is growing and I think it will further increase in the coming days,” said Khawaja Asif, the man who controls the PML-N’s heartland – central Punjab.

PPP leadership gave a measured response to the PML-N leaders’ allegations with Senator Sherry Rehman, who is also opposition leader in the Senate, saying that the PML-N should explain its stance over its senior leader’s remarks.

“Khawaja Asif’s statement is tantamount to smashing the opposition alliance into pieces. He [Asif] was not even in the country when the no-confidence motion in the Senate was moved. How does he know what happened,” she argued.

“The PPP too has its reservations [over the policies of other opposition parties] but never expressed them openly to keep the alliance intact,” she asserted.

ASIF OPENS A PANDORA’S BOX:

Asif did not stop here and rather went on to say that he was never in favour of his party’s cosying up too much to the PPP and also predicting that the two parties would soon part ways.

“I hope the alliance gets stronger but look at [what happened] last year when they [PPP] first wanted us to nominate Shehbaz Sharif for the prime minister’s office and we all know how that had turned out,” he said referring to opposition parties’ previous short-lived alliance which had come to an end when the PPP had refused to vote for the PML-N president.

On PPP senators submitting their resignations to party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari after the failure of the no-trust move in Senate, Asif maintained that it was just a “political gimmick”.

“To be honest, this is nothing. I will believe it when they actually step down as senators,” he added.

Asif drew parallels with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarians submitting their resignations to the National Assembly. “It is just a drama and nothing will come out of it,” he added.

Hinting that the PPP had betrayed the joint opposition in the Senate, the PML-N leader said, “They [PPP] do not want to lose the Sindh government. We have nothing to lose.”

Asif also disclosed that he was never too comfortable with the PML-N and the PPP’s growing affinity. “I was against so many of our party leaders going to his [Bilawal’s] iftar dinner. I did not tell her [Maryam Nawaz] to not go there but I had my reservations over such a big party delegation attending the dinner,” he added.

When asked whether or not he would accept Maryam taking over the reins of the party given her aggressive stance, Asif said, “She is our vice president and we would not have any problem even if she becomes the head of the party.”

PPP RESPONDS:

In a statement, PPP Information Secretary Nafeesa Shah asked Maryam to take notice of Asif’s remarks. She added that the statement was aimed at creating trouble.

“The PPP entered into an alliance with the PML-N for the sake of democracy even though its activists were unhappy about it,” she said, adding that the “PML-N itself has been unable to keep its senators in check”.