ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari convened a meeting of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Party in Karachi on 29 December to address a number of important topics, including the demand for en masse resignations from the national and provincial assemblies as part of the anti-government campaign of the opposition from the Pakistan Democratic Movement Platform (PDM).
On the one hand, in eight constituencies of national and provincial assemblies, the party is deliberating on the question of resigning from the assemblies and, on the other hand, has accepted applications from candidates for party tickets for the forthcoming by-elections.
Meanwhile, due to a lack of agreement on the subject, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) is still unsure whether it should participate in the by-elections or not.
“We are yet to make a statement on it. There are [in the party] two opposing opinions. Some say we’re supposed to be interested and some say we’re supposed to boycott,’ PML-N senior vice president and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said while talking to Dawn on Tuesday.
Party invites applications from candidates for by-elections
Mr. Abbasi said that a “consultative process” was going on within the party and during recent informal meetings they had also addressed the issue, but they failed to find a consensus. In order to finalise the plan in this respect, he said a formal meeting on the topic was scheduled in the next few days.
In reaction to the issue, Mr. Abbasi claimed that he was personally of the opinion that the party should take part in the by-elections, because the PDM had so far not taken any decision on en masse resignations from the assemblies.
The former prime minister said that until there is a PDM decision to resign and if elections are held, then one should engage in it in my personal view.
Speaking to Dharti News, Nayyar Bokhari, PPP Secretary General and former Senate Chairman, said the party held its annual CEC meeting in Naudero on the anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s death. He said, however, this time the PPP was holding a public meeting for the other PDM leaders in Larkana, so the party chairman had called a meeting in Karachi two days after Ms. Bhutto’s death anniversary on December 27.
In reaction to a question, Mr. Bokhari claimed that the matter of resignation would also be addressed at the conference, as the chairman of the party had already declared that any such decision would be made after deliberations at the CEC.
It was after a meeting of the heads of the PDM constituent parties in Islamabad on December 8 that Maulana Fazlur Rehman, president of the opposition alliance, declared that by December 31, all national and provincial legislators belonging to the opposition would collectively hand over their resignations to the heads of their parties.
During a press conference after presiding over a more than four-hour long alliance summit, The Maulana declared the decision, which was also discussed by PML-N Supreme Leader Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Zardari through video links from London and Karachi, respectively.
“However, the PDM leadership had failed to come up with an agreed plan for the use and timing of their most lethal weapon of en masse resignations, and Maulana Fazl simply announced that the PDM steering committee would meet in Islamabad the next day “to determine the timetable for more rallies and protests and the date for a long march to Islamabad.
However, the next day, before the Steering Committee meeting could take place, the PDM leaders again convened at Maulana’s residence for a luncheon meeting, during which PPP Chairman Bhutto-Zardari categorically announced that his party would come up with a final decision on en masse resignations after debating it at its CEC.
Sources in the PDM said that the PPP leaders were not very optimistic about the proposed move during the meeting and Mr. Zardari was not in support of Nawaz Sharif’s suggestion to hand over the resignations for future use to Maulana Fazl and it was on his recommendation that other parties eventually decided on the PPP’s proposal that the party leaders should collect the resignations
In the meantime, by Dec 26, the PPP has invited applications from those who wish to contest the party ticket by-elections. The applicants were asked to write applications on behalf of Asif Ali Zardari, president of the PPP-Parliamentarians, a party registered with the Pakistan Election Commission (ECP).
The ECP had last week agreed to promptly hold by-elections in eight constituencies of national and regional legislatures, which had been pending because of the coronavirus pandemic.