Yesterday’s political rivals have become today’s political allies in their fight against the PTI government. Opposition leaders came together for an iftaar dinner hosted by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Islamabad.
The opposition parties, including PPP, PkMAP, JUI-F, PML-N, National Party, and ANP, have decided to hold an All Parties Conference after Eid. The conference will be convened by JUI-F’s Fazlur Rehman.
“All parties will meet and work on their joint strategy against the government’s policies,” said Bilawal while addressing a press conference after the dinner on Sunday night. He said that the iftaar gave a chance to the opposition parties to discuss the country’s political and economic situation, the future of democracy and human rights in a “relaxed atmosphere”.
He remarked that all parties will continue to stage their own protests after Eid, outside and inside parliament.
“We discussed the country’s current situation and the countless challenges being faced by it,” said Rehman. “Unqualified people” have made Pakistan one of the weakest countries in the world. “We have to form a joint strategy and joint committee to overcome our problems.” It is the need of the house for us to become the voice of the nation, he added.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who is the acting president of the PML-N, said that the government has failed to run the country and solve its problems. “People are facing the brunt of the results of the controversial elections.” The increasing prices of commodities is just the start, the situation will become much worse, he said.
Abbasi remarked that the opposition parties didn’t meet to discuss their personal agendas because they are not trying to evade accountability. “We don’t have a problem with it. We just want a better future for Pakistan,” he said. “We are not interested in bringing down the government but solve the problems of the people.”
National Party’s Mir Hasil Bizenjo explained that the opposition parties have reached an agreement that they will once again after Eid and give birth to a new opposition and alliance. We need a strong political alliance, he remarked. Bizenjo said that the government has hit rock bottom and nobody has to bring it down now.
“We discussed a lot on ways to save the country’s democracy,” said MNA Mohsin Dawar. We just want the Constitution to be respected and followed. “We can’t allow more violations of the law,” he remarked. “We have to work together for Pakistan’s future.”
One of the highlights of the meeting was the participation of Maryam Nawaz, the recently appointed vice-president of the PML-N. Many people said that this is the first time that she met Bilawal, however, she clarified this misconception: “This is not my first meeting with Bilawal.” She said that they met first when he and his father, Asif Ali Zardari, came to condole her family after her mother’s death.
When asked how charter of democracy has helped Pakistan, she replied that the charter allowed two democratically elected governments to complete their tenures for the first time in country’s history.
Maryam arrived at the dinner alongside her cousin, Hamza Shahbaz. They are being accompanied by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Asif, and Pervaiz Rasheed. National’s Party’s Mir Hasan Bizenjo is in attendance too.
Many heads of different parties couldn’t come but party representatives are attending it on their behalf. Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Mahmood Khan Achakzai couldn’t come but sent a party delegation on his behalf. Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami National Party’s Asfandyar Wali didn’t attend it either.
Bilawal had personally invited JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Asfandyar Wali of the ANP. Akhtar Mengal of the BNP, Aftab Sherpao of the Qaumi Watan Party and Owais Noorani of the JUP have also been invited.
The joint opposition has already decided to give the government a tough time over the IMF programme it recently signed.