Saturday Mar 27, 2021
LAHORE: PML-N Vice President and senior Opposition leader Maryam Nawaz made her anger and frustration with erstwhile coalition partner PPP known in no unclear terms on Saturday, lashing out publicly at the latter for "sacrificing everything" for a "minor, inconsequential office".
A day earlier, the PPP — seemingly unable to arrive at an amicable resolution to a dispute with other Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties over who should get the Senate opposition leader's seat — had rounded 30 senators and gone ahead to secure the position for its candidate, Yousaf Raza Gillani, without the PDM's blessing.
The numbers comprised 21 senators from the PPP itself, 2 senators from the Awami National Party, 1 senator of the Jamaat-i-Islami, 2 independents from FATA and a group of 4 'independents' led by Senator Dilawar Khan that had broken away from the Balochistan Awami Party to support Gillani's candidature.
"I am glad that they are now calling the PDM's narrative, Maryam Nawaz's narrative," Maryam Nawaz said at the beginning of her press conference.
"Our narrative is out there for the entire country to see. It is Nawaz Sharif's narrative; it is the narrative of democracy, of law and the Constitution," she said.
"I am glad a visible line has been drawn," she said, referring to the events that transpired on Friday.
"On one side there are those who are sacrificing their own wellbeing for the public and its right to rule, and are not willing to show any weakness — on the other side are those who have sacrificed all their principles for the smallest of gains; who are willing to forego the law and the Constitution."
"I am glad that this line has been drawn and that everyone recognises who is standing where," she said.
When asked what her party's strategy would now be; what holds for the future of the PDM; and if the events of a day earlier marked the PPP's departure from the PDM, Maryam Nawaz desisted from giving a definitive answer, but made her displeasure known.
"I am waiting for PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rahman to make his position on this matter public. However, I deeply regret that despite understanding the situation and despite having the wisdom, you [Gillani] have dealt a massive blow to democracy, our cause and the public's struggle for their right to rule for a very minor and inconsequential office."
"I also feel this damage has been done primarily to you, because the people are watching who is standing where and who is continuing to struggle," she continued.
"This is not the PDM's defeat, of which the PML-N remains a part. It is the defeat of the people who sacrificed their principles for an inconsequential office," Maryam said.
"What good is a leader of opposition anyway? It's not like we could have formed a government with it even if the PML-N got the post. This is a very meaningless, very transitionary victory, and I regret that for this small gain, you have taken votes from the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP)," Maryam criticised.
"If you really wanted this meaningless and inconsequential post, you should have asked Nawaz Sharif for it," she said, addressing the PPP.
"He gave you all 83 of his party's votes in the National Assembly to elect Yousaf Raza Gillani. If he can also give you all 17 of his senators for the Senate chairman's election, he [Nawaz Sharif] would have given this to you as well if you had just asked him for it."
"Instead you took votes from BAP?! The same BAP that doesn't side with anyone without its patrons' blessing?"
Maryam went on to claim that the PML-N's candidate for opposition leader in the Senate, Azam Nazeer Tarar, had received a phone call from Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani offering him the support of three or four BAP senators for his candidature.
"He [Tarar] told him I don't need your votes. I am with my party and my party has a position which I will not betray. I cannot betray the PDM."
"This is the first time in Pakistan's 73-year history — probably in the history of the entire world, that the Leader of the Opposition has been elected — rather selected — by government senators."
"Have you ever seen this happen?"
"If you feel that the public will not know [what you've done] if you call them [BAP senators] 'independents', then I think you're only fooling yourself," she said, referring to a press conference a day earlier in which Gillani had explained his party's rationale and reasons for securing the post.
"If you want to be subservient; if you want to to be selected, then you should follow Imran Khan, who does this stubbornly and shamelessly. You can't be both here and there — sometimes in the opposition and sometimes in the government," she continued.
"You should accept openly that you have taken orders from the [BAP's] patrons, accepted them and used them."
"When you no longer believe you have public support, and feel that there is no way to get power without being selected, it means you have lost the power of the vote."
"The lines have been drawn and everyone knows where each party stands. You have been voted for by BAP, on the direction of its patrons, and you should accept it."