The political atmosphere inside the Upper and Lower houses is likely to heat up further after Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s All Parties Conference in which the Opposition parties not only targeted the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government, but also the military establishment.
At the end of the day-long Opposition’s APC, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman read out the resolutions including the decision to observe a black day on 25th of the next month against the alleged rigging in 2018 general elections and protest the proposed federal budget for 2019-20 and price-hike. But the most important announcement was to move a no-confidence motion to de-seat Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. Legislations for missing persons’ recovery and an end to the state institutions’ involvement in politics are the other main points of the resolution. The opposition seems to be in a mood to take on both the PTI government and the military establishment at the same time by using the JUI-F platform.
Interestingly, the Opposition gathering in Islamabad coincided with the visit of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, which aired the speculation that this visit was part of the reconciliation efforts by some countries seeking concession for the three-time deposed prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman came to Islamabad in mid-February 2019, same kind of “rumours” made rounds in the country.
Since taking oath as the prime minister, Imran Khan he has been saying that he will not give NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to any politician and will get back the looted money.
In recent current affairs programmes on news channels, some journalists claimed Mian Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari have agreed to pay “a good amount” to the government to secure their political future in the country, besides a “safe exit” for Nawaz Sharif. However, Imran Khan is reluctant to give any assurance in this regards.
“No country approached me to strike any concessional deal with Nawaz Sharif to provide him a safe exit,” Imran Khan had said after the departure of Emir of Qatar. Brushing aside these speculations, Imran Khan said at a meeting of the PTI parliamentary committee, “The opposition is using pressure tactics to seek NRO for Sharif and evade accountability for corruption.”
“Qatar is not playing any role on behalf of Nawaz Sharif,” said a senior journalist, Farrukh Pitafi. “If the Sharif brothers would strike some deal, Qatar would not be the country to go between.”
“Changing Senate chairman is also not a good idea by the opposition parties as after the election in the Upper house, the PTI will elect its own member for the top slot,” Pitafi added.
“The basic purpose of the Opposition parties at APC was to create noise over the arrest of politicians from the PML-N and the PPP, who ruled this country for the last 10 years,” said Senator Envor Baig.
Before this conference, it was expected that the opposition might try to show street power against the government in the coming days. Breaking silence after several months, Maryam Nawaz has started criticising the federal government and Imran Khan at different forums.
But after the Maulana’s APC, it seems that the Opposition parties will not test their supporters on the street and continue with anti-government moves and speeches inside the parliament.
So far the PML-N and the PPP are taking steps with extreme care. They are opposing the PTI government’s policies, but avoiding giving a call for any agitation, fearing they might not assemble a good number of supporters in Islamabad.
Their fears seem genuine — first, their main leadership is behind the bars; second, the PPP and the PML-N have lost constituencies in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The PPP’s politics is confined to Sindh only while the PML-N has its strength in the central Punjab. Another reason is the current heat wave prevailing in the country that might deter the Opposition supporters and workers to assemble in the capital.
Though the economics policies of the PTI government seem to be not working as the lower and middle class are feeling the heat of inflation, there is a large number of people who believe the previous governments of the PPP and the PML-N have actually done the economic damage. Besides, the PML-N workers are also confused over differences between the party President Shahbaz Sharif and Vice President Maryam Nawaz, though they tried to hush up their fissures during the Opposition’s conference.
The division between the Shahbaz and Nawaz camp is very visible. Nawaz Sharif is in jail, his daughter is convicted in Avenfield Apartments corruption reference and his two sons have declared that they are British nationals to avoid legal proceedings against them.
On the other hand, there are many cases against Shahbaz Sharif and his family, though they have not been proven guilty by any court of law so far. So, they see their political future in this country, unlike Nawaz Sharif and his family.