ISLAMABAD-The main opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples’ Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) are all united against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

They want PTI removed from power. They are convinced that the present government at Centre has failed on all fronts and now it’s high time to send them packing. The opposition parties contact one another, talk and discuss different strategies and options including no-confidence motion against the prime minister, to get rid of what they view as the most incompetent and inexperienced government ever. At least, they all want ‘minus one’ and seem willing to do everything that sends this government home but no serious effort has so far been seen on their part.

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and JUI-F chief have been more vocal and seem more willing to go to any length against Imran Khan’s government. Bilawal wanted to give tough time to the ruling party at the occasion of passage of budget in the National Assembly. He contacted PML-N president and also the opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on the issue and also expressed his desire to call an APC against the government. The government got passed the budget and the opposition parties have been explaining their position – thanks to the mistrust among the opposition parties.

On July 8, Shahbaz Sharif and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held telephonic conversation to discuss an All Parties Conference of the opposition parties. While discussing on phone, Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari agreed to hold an APC of the opposition soon while dates for it would be fixed with consultation. Bilawal was of the view that the budget has made the people’s lives difficult and they are overburdened with the rising price hike. According to details, there is a difference between the PML-N and PPP leadership as to who will chair the APC. They said PPP wants both Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari but PML-N wants Shahbaz Sharif alone. The PML-N’s demand has where dimmed the prospects of the APC, it has also led to enhanced distrust between the two parties. The PPP believes that the demand has been used as a ploy to sabotage the proposed APC.

On June 26 also, Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had contacted top opposition parties’ leaders to challenge the government amid growing political confrontation. The PPP chairman discussed holding of an APC on the political situation, COVID-19, locust attacks, 18th amendment and the recently passed budget. He contacted opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Sirajul Haq, head of Qaumi Watan Party Aftab Sherpao, Aimal Wali Khan of the Awami National Party, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo and Member National Assembly Mohsin Dawar. The contacts between the opposition parties at that time were of vital importance as several PTI ministers at the Centre had made their differences public, though reconciling in the end. This time also the talks could not proceed further due to lack of interest by the parties the PPP has been relying upon, according to the details. A PPP statement had said that both Bilawal and Shahbaz Sharif agreed to an APC next week.

On March 23, 2020 also, Bilawal had contacted opposition parties for an APC. Bilawal telephoned the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), JUI-F, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan, PML-Q, Balochistan National Party and Awani National Party. The PPP officially announced that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talked over phone with Shahbaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pervez Elahi, Akhtar Mengal, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Aimal Wali Khan in this regard but to no avail as the opposition parties are still standing at the same point where they were some six months back.

Serious efforts were made on part of PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for convening a fruitful APC. He has been consistent in his stance against the Imran-led government though ditched all the time by the other opposition parties.  

Another display of mistrust between the main opposition parties was witnessed in November last year when Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had skipped APC on Azadi March. They had not attended an All Parties Conference headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Islamabad. Former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq had instead led the PML-N delegation in the APC. The PML-N and the PPP had failed to actively extend their political support for the Azadi March, “a betrayal that is still fresh in the memories of the JUI-F leadership,” according to the JUI-F leadership. Prior to the Azadi March, in June last year, PPP and PML-N had also tried to convince JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to postpone the APC but the latter had declined saying it will be held as per schedule. The APC was called to formulate a joint strategy for a future course of action against the ruling PTI government.

According to the details, repeated attempts on part of PPP and JUI-F leadership to go for a final push against the PTI government has met failure not because of outer factors but the mistrust that existed between the opposition parties. They said that all the opposition parties are united up to the point that removal of the PTI government was necessary but question of how and when remains unaddressed. Credit and discredit in the possible political confrontation with the PTI also keeps the opposition parties away and complainant against one another.  

On the other hand, according to details, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif is in a fix as to how to attend the proposed APC and later skip appearing before the NAB in corruption reference. Shahbaz Sharif has missed several appearances under the pretext of Corona infection and illness. He has recently tested Coronavirus negative but still ‘was not able to appear before the NAB due to the precautionary measures adopted to protect himself from the virus.’ Some believe that PML-N leadership is not interested in launching a full-scale move against the PTI government at the moment for the reasons quite known to the other opposition parties. With the main opposition party dilly-dallying on the possible move against the incumbent government, Imran-led government is bound to complete its five-year term.