PPP’s dragging feet on resignations, local political rivalries seen as reasons
LARKANA: Embattled with rifts in his own party, Jamiat Uelmae-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman will not attend the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) show of power on Sunday (today) with a rally in Garhi Khuda Bux, Larkana, on the occasion of 13th death anniversary of late Benazir Bhutto.
The anniversary this year will be different from the previous years, as it will see for the first time a member of the Sharif family – the political rivals of late Banazir Bhutto. However, Fazl will stay away from the PPP’s rally, despite invitation from former president Asif Zardari.
Maryam Nawaz, daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Vice President of the Pakistan Muslim LeagueNawaz (PML-N) along with her spouse Captain (retd) Safdar and other party leaders, including Pervaiz Rashid and Marriyum Aurangzeb, will attend the event.
PPP, JUI-F and PML-N are part of the 11-party alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which had launched a campaign to dis-lodge the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insasf (PTI) government, including en masse resigna-tions from assemblies and long march on Islamabad early next year.According to PPP sources, Fazl, also the PDM President, excused from attending the rally, citing his preoccupa-tion with other engagements.
Fazl’s refusal to attend the PPP’s rally, despite invitation from the top PPP leadership, raised questions about the future of the PDM. Political observers see it as sign of cracks in the opposi-tion alliance, indicating that reasons for Fazl’s refusal were multiple. “Asif Zardari has phoned twice, but Maulana has refused,” a source familiar with the development told The Express Tribune.
The source said that there was a rift between Zardari and Fazl over the narrative of the PDM to take the anti-government movement forward. “There are also severe differ-ences between the PPP and the JUI-F’s local leadership in Larkana,” the source added.
It was revealed that local chapters of the PPP and the JUI-F came face to face over the sixth death anniversary of JUI-F leader Khalid Mehmood Soomro a few days ago, when PPP workers removed banners, flags and posters of the JUI-F and hoisted their own party flags and banners in Larkana.
“This led to a scuffle between workers and local leaders of the party too,” Shiraz Pathan, a local journalist, said, confirming the incident.According to the reports pouring in from various sources, Rashid Mehmood Soomro, son of late Khalid Mehmood Soomro, who is Secretary General of the JUI-F Sindh, forcefully raised the incident with Fazl, and refused to attend the death an-niversary of Benazir Bhutto.
Though the JUI-F chief will not go to Garhi Khuda Bux, it has been decided that the party leader Maulana Ghafoor Haidry will represent the party at the event, the JUI-F announced late on Saturday.The political rivalry between the PPP and the JUI-F in Larkana dates back to the days of PPP founder late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The PPP here al-ways faced JUI-F candidates in elections against its lead-ers, including late ZA Bhutto, late Benazir Bhutto and even the current Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.In a recent by-election in Larkana – the stronghold of the PPP which is in the gov-ernment in the province – the JUI-F with the support of the anti-PPP alliance and a PTI ally at the Centre, the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), defeat the PPP candidate.
Other reports, however, suggested that Fazl was angry because Zardari had bluntly refused to resign from the assemblies and leaving the Sindh government. The re-ports added there were differences between Zardari and rest of PDM leadership on different points, which led Fazl to avoid PPP rally.
Despite many attempts to get JUI-F’s reactions to these reports, no leader was available to speak publicly. However, the PPP leaders refuted the reports of any dif-ference within the ranks of PDM. “We are following and agreed on all points decided in the PDM meetings. Many of our lawmakers have already sent resignation to party leadership,” senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said.
“We are ready to give sacrifice of our government in Sindh and will continue the struggle to logical end. ”When asked if there were difference over a sit-in in Islamabad, he again dispelled the rumours of disagreement in the alliance bit distanced the part away from the idea of a sit-in.
“We never support Dharna [sit-in] politics. We strongly opposed PTI Dhara in Islamabad [in 2014] and still do,” he said.The development comes a day after the JUI-F expelled four rebel leaders, who had challenged the policy of Maulana Fazl, particularly, his anti-government move-ment from the platform of the PDM. The expulsions laid bare serious rifts within the JUI-F leadership.
A similar situation is seen in the PML-N, wherein the party President Shehbaz Sharif appeared to be in favour of a dia-logue with the government. However, Maryam, who is leading the party because of Shahbaz Sharif’s incarcera-tion over the pending corrup-tion cases, is averse to any dialogue.
According to media reports, the PPP and the rest of the PDM are drifting apart on the resignations issue and in this regard, Senior Vice President of PML-N, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with Fazl in the night between Thursday and Friday, and discussed the matter.The reports added that the Abbasi impressed upon Fazl to convene a meeting of the party heads to discuss the PPP’s position on the resigna-tions. It had been stated that Fazl had called a meeting of the party heads on January 2.
Also last week, a senior leader of the PML-Functional – an ally of the government, met Shehbaz in Kot Lakhpat jail. Talking to reporters after the meeting, PML-F Secretary General Muhammad Ali Durrani indicated that Shehbaz appeared in favour of talks with the government.
However, Maryam took to micro-blogging website, Twitter on Friday, ruling out the possibility of any “mini or grand dialogue” with the PTI-led dispensation. Even on Saturday, just before embarking on a tour of Sindh, she repeated her opposition to the talks.
Speaking to reporters in Lahore, Maryam claimed the party had received several messages from the government side for negotiations, adding that when no response was given from the party, “people were being sent” for negotiations with Shehbaz. Responding to a question, she dispelled “rumours” that Shehbaz was considering a different approach from his elder brother Nawaz Sharif or going against him.
“It has been proven in the past and today that Shehbaz Sharif is very loyal to his brother and his party,” she said. “If he [Shehbaz] was not loyal, then there was no need to bring this prime minister [Imran Khan] to power. Shehbaz would have been made the prime minister. But he has rejected all those offers,” Maryam told the reporters. “I believe Nawaz Sharif has made a decision and Maulana Fazl is also very clear that no negotiations with the fake government will be held,” she added.
She also said that the party had so far collected 159 resignations from its Punjab Assembly members and 95 from National Assembly members.Later in the day, Maryam Nawaz reached Naudero House. She will visit the Bhutto family graveyard in Garhi Khuda Bux on Sunday (today) morning to offer fateha for late Benazir Bhutto and attend the rally which is scheduled to start at 1 pm.