Sunday Mar 21 2021
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'PDM already decided PML-N would get Leader of the Opposition in the Senate'

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akistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman (L) addressing a press conference alongside PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, on March 21, 2021. — Geo News
  • Maryam Nawaz says PDM had already decided the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate will be from PML-N; a win or loss in chairman, deputy chairman positions does not count as a factor to revisit this.
  • PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman says the Opposition alliance will show up "in hundreds of thousands" for PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz's NAB hearing in show of solidarity on March 26.
  • Says "NAB's summons have exposed institution for the puppet it is".

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement had already agreed that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate will be from the PML-N and the decision should "principally" not be revisited.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore alongside PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam said that victory or defeat in the election for the top Senate slots cannot be a factor for a change in this decision.

Maryam's remarks came as she was asked to respond to whether PML-N's Azam Nazir Tarar and Sadia Abbasi are under consideration for the position or if negotiations will take place over PPP's Yousaf Raza Gillani's nomination.

To this, she said that it was decided "in principle", when PDM leaders met at Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's house, that support for Gillani for Senate chairman, for JUI-F's Abdul Ghafoor Haideri for deputy chairman, and for a PML-N candidate for leader of the opposition will be extended.

She said a win or loss was not discussed as a factor for any change in the decision.

"I am sure [anyone who opposes this] can be made to understand that when a decision in principle is made, there is no need to revisit it," Maryam said.

Meanwhile, Fazlur Rehman shot down the idea there is a rift in the opposition alliance over this matter, among other issues such as resignations from parliament.

"PDM is not only united, through mutual consultations we have matters under control. We all have to move ahead forward. The nine parties that have a particular ideology will request the PPP to respect their viewpoint," he said.

The PDM chief said that the alliance will wait for the outcome of the PPP's Central Executive Committee meeting — set to take place in the first week of April — and is also willing to review their recommendations so that the alliance can move forward effectively.

Read more: PDM puts off long march as PPP seeks time to respond on resignations

PDM to show up in support of Maryam during NAB hearing

Fazlur Rehman said that during Maryam's hearing on March 26 with the National Accountability Bureau, the opposition alliance will be present with her in a show of solidarity.

"The apparent reasons cited by NAB have exposed the bureau for the puppet institution it is. It has approached the court for cancellation of [Maryam's] bail on the basis that she speaks against institutions.

"So the institution has been formed not to combat corruption but to serve other institutions," he said.

Fazlur Rehman said that when she appears before NAB on Friday, all of the PDM's workers and leaders will be right there with her.

He went on to say that the workers will number "not thousands, but hundreds of thousands".

It will be decided later who among the leaders will be present, but nonetheless, we will be there and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her, the PDM chief said.

Maryam has been summoned by the anti-corruption watchdog in pursuance of two cases — the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and one pertaining to purchase of land in Raiwind.

Is govt 'taking advantage' of this perceived lack of unity within PDM?

Maryam was also asked to comment on whether the government has begun to "take advantage" of this perceived lack of unity or "miscoordination" between PDM.

To this, the PML-N Vice President responded by saying: "We are striving to keep all parties united. But [in any case] Imran Khan's future is not linked with the PDM. His future and that of his fake government hinges on his own performance."

She said that whatever the inner workings of the PDM, Imran Khan will have to answer for the "incompetence, ineptitude that has swallowed the country whole" and not the opposition alliance.

Maryam said that the PDM will demand an answer to this "incompetence" from the government and will "fully represent and safeguard" the interests of the people. "We will not allow the government to escape from the backdoor," she said.

NA-249 election

The PML-N vice president said that the talks are underway between PPP and PML-N over the NA-249 election in which PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail is a contender. "We will let you know when a decision is reached," she said.

'Long march without PPP?'

Maryam was of the view that although a long march is very much possible with just JUI-F and PML-N leading the way, "who are very big parties in their own constituencies" and who have "held large events with success before", it would be better for all parties to stand united and represent the people together and so the alliance will look to PPP to join them.

Fazlur Rehman said PPP is a "big party" and even a small party within the alliance, if it were to express reservations, "would be accorded respect and their viewpoint considered".

He said the long march "will InshaAllah take place".

Also read: PDM's long march likely to take place after Ramazan: Fazlur Rehman

'Differences with Hamza Shahbaz?'

The two leaders held the media briefing following a meeting between them which was also attended by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Hamza Shahbaz.

The PML-N vice president shot down the "shameful lies" that have been reported by some channels regarding differences with Hamza Shahbaz.

She said the Punjab Assembly's Leader of the Opposition participated in the lunch meeting hosted by Fazlur Rehman and had to go away to meet the doctor who is looking after the treatment of her daughter's heart condition.

"A media channel or two ran this baseless news. They should at least fear God before running such big lies," she said.