LAHORE - Against the backdrop of lingering political crisis in Pakistan, the PPP, a main Opposition party, has been sending mixed signals to the establishment, the force apparently behind the current move to dislodge Sharifs from power.
It is mainly because of the conflicting statements of its leaders who think differently on the prevailing situation. If Senator Rehman Malik, a close aide of Asif Ali Zardari, states that “we are with democracy and not with the government, Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah, on the other hand, extends his fullest support to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and says he should not resign under any pressure.
Likewise, when ex-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani openly sides with the establishment on the issue of ex-Army chief. Gen. (Retd) Pervaiz Musharraf’s treason trial, party spokesperson, Senator Farhatullah Babar disowns the statement asserting this was not the party line. Numerous other examples can be quoted here.
In the deeper analysis, it would become evident that it is due to a conflict of interest between PPP’s Punjab and Sindh chapters.
The PPP never came to power in Punjab in the real sense after the rule of party founder Z. A Bhutto in the seventies. It is without power for the last over many years and wants an end to political hegemony of the Sharif family. It seems supportive of any move to dislodge the Government especially in Punjab, a PML-N stronghold since years.
The PPP’s Sindh leaders, on the other hand, had been in power most of the time when their colleagues in Punjab were kept out of it due to rise of the PML-N. The May 2013 elections saw annihilation of the PPP in Punjab.
In this background, the Sindh leadership is supportive of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in view of the fact that any instability in the present system coming out of the present crisis would also deprive them of power. The Punjab leadership, however, thinks otherwise. Ever since the start of political unrest in August this year, people have witnessed former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Party’s central Secretary General Sardar Latif Khosa, Secretary Information, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Senator Ch Aitzaz Ahsan and central Punjab President, Mian Manzoor Wattoo-all from Punjab- expressing solidarity with the PTI and PAT leaders. They see in them a saviour who would weaken Sharifs in Punjab and pave the way for their possible return to power in this province. This they think despite PTI’s growing popularity in the urban centres.
It was in this perspective that PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on Wednesday came down hard on Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah who has been critical of the PTI and PAT on the Assembly floor, but supporting Nawaz Sharif on the issue of his resignation. On the other hand, Qadri showered praise on Latif Khosa, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Ch Aitzaz Ahsan for siding with the protesters.
Sensing the unrest among the party’s Punjab cadres over top leadership’s unconditional support to the government, Asif Ali Zardari asked Aitzaz Ahsan to make a speech in the joint session instead of Khurshid Shah. He made a balanced speech supporting all genuine demands of the protesting parties while disagreeing only with the modus operandi they have adopted to achieve their agenda. Aitzaz grilled the government for delay in registration of FIR of the Model Town incident and also criticised it for mishandling the issue. But at the same time, he put his weight behind the democratic government making it loud and clear that PPP was with the Prime Minister though with reservations. “Mr Prime Minister, it is with heavy heart that we are supporting you. We have strong reservations over the style of your governance and other issues”, he remarked.
The PPP’s Punjab cadres were jubilant after Aitzaz’s speech who actually gave vent to their sentiments on the present situation.
PPP CALLS FOR TALKS
Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Wednesday assured its support to the government for resolving the current political impasse through negotiations and dialogue.
"The PPP resolved to continue its support for democratic system and the parliament," vowed PPP's lawmakers in a party meeting presided over by party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
Former President Zardari, who intended to stay in Islamabad till end to political impasse, said that deadlock should be resolved through dialogue, as the country could not further afford any crisis. The former president also said the PM should not resign under political pressure, said the sources.
The meeting was also participated by PPP's senior members including Raja Parvez Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Sherry Rehman, Fauzia Habib, Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Aitzaz Ahsan, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Rehman Malik and Farhatullah Babar.
The meeting also reviewed in depth the current political situation. All the members criticised PAT chief Tahirul Qadri's remarks against Syed Khursheed Shah. Talking to media, Qamar Zaman Kaira responded the accusation of PAT chief Tahirul Qadri against the opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah.
"Language of Tahirul Qadri was not appropriate against Khursheed Shah," he said, mentioning that Shah is an asset of PPP.
"The PPP is like a family...Any comment against any member will be taken against the party," he said, rejecting the allegation of Qadri against Shah. He further said that all these accusations have already been rejected.