ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders are set to gather today (Sunday) to discuss the prevalent political situation, with the controversial statement of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari atop the agenda.
The PDM meeting, to be held under the chair of PDM chairman Maulana Fazlur Rehman, would also discuss upcoming elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, issues pertaining to price hike and government’s strategy to hold public meetings.
According to sources in the PML-N, Bilawal’s BBC interview would be at the top of the meeting’s agenda wherein the PPP chairman would be asked to clarify “what made him go public with such a sensitive issue which could prove to be detrimental for the future of the alliance”.
Another informed opposition source told Pakistan Today that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also expected to address the meeting via video link to explain why he had publicly named Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (DG-ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed during his address to the PDM rally in Gujranwala.
The meeting of the opposition alliance will review the overall political situation in the country, besides its anti-government movement. It will also deliberate upon its future course of action, including its November 22 meeting which would be held in Peshawar.
Political observers believe that this meeting of the opposition alliance will be of utmost importance particularly after the PPP chairman’s interview to foreign media.
“Some could even express reservations, as the interview given by Bilawal has been under discussion in political circles since Friday, on the basis of which there are rumours of a rift in the opposition alliance,” an insider informed.
PDM alliance ‘deeply hurt’
A source in the PML-N said that the statement of Bilawal had deeply hurt the PDM alliance with relationship between Bilawal and Maryam Nawaz getting soured.
“It appears that the two major opposition parties may not remain on the same page following this statement, as other parties in the PDM coalition are now concerned about the future of the coalition. Though the gulf today is thin but in near future, this statement would create distance between Maryam and Bilawal,” the source added.
It may be recalled that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said that Nawaz Sharif’s naming the army leadership had “shocked” everyone.
“We are waiting to see when the former prime minister will present evidence to substantiate his accusations against the army chief and DG-ISI. It is certain that he did not name them without a clear and solid evidence,” Bilawal had told an international broadcast during the interview.
He said that according to the consensus reached between the PDM leadership, it was decided that the responsibility of bringing Imran Khan’s government cannot be placed on any individual and rather establishment should be blamed.
Another PML-N leader told this scribe that the PDM rallies had proved to be lethal for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and Prime Minister Imran Khan was under so much pressure that he had started addressing public gatherings.
However, the source said, Bilawal’s interview to British media had proved to be detrimental for the alliance and Maryam Nawaz was very upset with the statement of the PPP chairman.
“Bilawal and Maryam had developed a solid partnership over the past few months and there was an impression that both the parties can lead an aggressive anti-government campaign but Bilawal’s explosive interview has badly hurt Maryam Nawaz,” the source said.
The source said that Bilawal has clearly distanced himself from the statement of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and said that it was shocking for him and other PDM leaders to hear the name of the military leadership directly in Nawaz Sharif’s speech.
Though PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz has tried to save the alliance by saying that the statement of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was being twisted for political objectives and this bid is a failed attempt to break the PDM, the source said that Bilawal’s statement has not only hurt the alliance but also exposed deep-down cracks in the PDM ranks.
She clarified that Bilawal did not say anything in the interview which is ‘objectionable’.
Asked if the interview had damaged the alliance between the PPP and PML-N, Maryam Nawaz said that she and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari were not kids to be fooled around.
“We all know what is the purpose of twisting this statement. In fact, there is no such objectionable thing in the interview of Bilawal. Whatever we object to, we know that distorting the statement of the Chairman PPP is a failed attempt to break the alliance of opposition parties, the Pakistan Democratic Movement,” she told media.
Meanwhile, in another development, Maryam Nawaz also sought lists of those PML-N lawmakers who had opposed Nawaz Sharif’s statement about the army leadership.
A source in the PML-N told this scribe that Maryam has said that it has been decided not to include those PML-N lawmakers in the committees to be formed for preparations of the public meeting of the PML-N being held on December 13.
“Those who have publicly opposed Nawaz Sharif’s statement against the army chief will be directed to clear their position before the meeting on December 13. Those in question include PML-N MPAs Mian Jalil Sharaqpuri, Ashraf Ansari, Nishat Dhaha and others. Maryam Nawaz has also informed Shahbaz Sharif about Nawaz Sharif’s decision in their recent meeting in a court,” the source concluded.