ISLAMABAD           -          PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz believe there should be no ‘automatic support’ to the government on the crucial legislation to determine the Army Chief’s tenure and other conditions of service, close aides said.

The two top opposition leaders want Prime Minister Imran Khan to formally contact the opposition for ‘help’ on the legislation, sources told The Nation.

Close aides of the two leaders said the two main major parties support a joint stand by the opposition on the issue. “Bilawal wants PM Imran Khan to contact the PPP for help if they want it. There will be no automatic support. We however, think there will be no compromise on national interest,” said a senior PPP leader. Another PPP leader said the opposition will come up with its stance after the government takes up the issue in the parliament.

A PML-N stalwart said Maryam Nawaz too had the same opinion as she was against helping out the government unless there is a major national issue.

“On the national issues, we will not step back but the government needs to show it needs help. National interest is our top priority,” he said, citing recent meeting with Maryam Nawaz, who is running PML-N in absence of father Nawaz Sharif and uncle Shehbaz Sharif.

This week, the Supreme Court extended Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure by six months. The court also asked the government to enact a law on the matter in six months.

Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to comment on the verdict. “Today must be a great disappointment to those who expected the country to be destabilised by a clash of institutions. That this did not happen must be of special disappointment to our external enemies and mafias within,” he wrote. He said these ‘mafias’ have stashed their loot abroad and seek to protect this loot by destabilizing the whole country.

Senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said his party does not want crisis in the country and had always played a positive role on the national issues. But, he added: “The government has to change its attitude. When they (the government) use the language that they are using right now, it becomes difficult to help them. We will see how to go about it but they need to contact us first,” he said.

Kaira said the government had broken all the records of indifference towards the democratic principles. “They are still in the opposition mode. They need to come out of it and accept the opposition’s mandate,” he added.

Talking to newsmen in Islamabad on Friday, PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb said her party would have won the elections if its mandate was not ‘stolen.’ “The PML-N would have been ruling the country if the Results Transmission System of the Election Commission of Pakistan had not failed,” she mocked.

Marriyum Aurangzeb alleged the country was being ruled by a mafia, adding Prime Minister Imran Khan would get threats in return to the threats. She said PM Imran Khan’s recent statement was synonymous with showing anger after getting embarrassed. “The Supreme Court pointed out the government’s ineptitude time and again. PM Imran Khan is trying to put blame of his own mistakes on others as always. Pakistan is getting unsafe due to the premier’s incompetency and lies,” she said.

Romina Khurshid Alam, a PML-N lawmaker said the party would consult other opposition parties before taking any decision on the proposed legislation.

“It is not about the PML-N alone, we have to consult other parties too. But the opposition can only help if the government stops abusing and victimising the political opponents. For now, they (the government) have not even contacted us. The National Assembly session has been postponed. The government doesn’t seem serious,” the MNA said.

Alam said the government was crushing the opposition under false and fabricated cases. “These are not the right conditions for cooperation,” she contended.