Tuesday Aug 10 2021
Web Desk

Nawaz, Shahbaz on same page to ramp up PDM's anti-govt efforts

Web Desk
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (L) shakes hands with his brother and then chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, during a PML-N workers convention, in Lahore, on October 4, 2017. —AFP photo
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (L) shakes hands with his brother and then chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, during a PML-N workers convention, in Lahore, on October 4, 2017. —AFP photo

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his brother, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, on Tuesday appeared to be on the same page, agreeing in talks to inject new vigour into the Pakistan Democratic Movement and to ramp up efforts to oust the government.

The talks between the brothers come ahead of a meeting of the Opposition alliance tomorrow in Islamabad.

They also come amid speculation by the media and government representatives in recent months over a perceived difference in the two brothers' approaches, characterised by Minister for Interior Shaikh Rasheed as Noon League (named after Nawaz Sharif) separating from a supposed Sheen League (named after Shahbaz Sharif).

Sources told Geo News that Shahbaz will convene an intra-party meeting prior to the PDM session.

The sources said that Nawaz has instructed Shahbaz to mobilise the PML-N ranks to step up efforts in their anti-government campaign.

Meanwhile, former PDM member, PPP has wished the alliance good luck.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has, in fact, renewed calls for the Opposition to mount a no-trust bid against Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar.

"If the Opposition moves a no-confidence motion against [Prime Minister] Imran Khan and [Chief Minister Punjab] Usman Buzdar, then we can have the government ousted tomorrow," Bilawal said in a press conference earlier today.

Bilawal's remarks came despite the PPP having had a fall out with the alliance and ultimately quitting it.

PDM's troubles

The PDM, a multi-party Opposition alliance, was formed on September 20, 2020 with a view to oust the PTI-led government.

After a successful first few weeks of campaigning, that saw mass rallies convene all across Pakistan, rifts began to emerge, around the time of the Senate elections.

At the forefront of the tensions are the PPP and PML-N — considered the two biggest Opposition parties in Pakistan — ever since PPP's Yousaf Raza Gillani was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

Gillani's appointment drew the ire of PDM, which said that the move was made without its blessing.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz maintains that at the time of the Senate chairman election, it was "decided" that with the PPP running for the seat, the PML-N will be given the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate position.

PPP, however, rounded up 30 senators to get its own candidate, Gillani appointed to the Opposition leader position.

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.

Over seeking the support of government allies (members of BAP), the PDM then issued show-cause notices to the PPP, as well as ANP, a move that was considered highly offensive by both parties and resulted in them quitting the alliance.

Mudslinging between both parties, following the break up, has continued and the rift seems to be widening over time.

In the NA-249 by-election in Karachi, the PPP and PML-N fielded their separate candidates with PPP's Abdul Qadir Mandokhel winning the race. PML-N accused the PPP of stealing the election.

PPP, in turn, demanded proof of the allegations and went so far as to name the PML-N as the "original selected" and "only second to PTI in its selectedness".

PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl faction, has on several occasions said he wishes to give PPP and ANP a chance to return to the fold.

In the latest report of him attempting to bridge the gap between the parties, it was said close to Eid-ul-Fitr, that the PDM chief may make an attempt to invite PPP and ANP back into the fold after Eid.

The PML-N president, too, has been focusing his efforts on bringing the PPP and the ANP back, in order to more effectively put pressure on the government once again.

Shahbaz, ahead of the last major PDM meeting, in May, had said at a press conference: "No party has the right to bring or kick another party out [of the alliance]. PDM is a forum and decisions are taken with consensus." 

On May 29, the last time PDM met, the alliance rejected the government's electoral reforms as "one-sided" and announced a fresh wave of protest rallies across the country.