ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s major opposition parties have joined heads to devise an anti-government strategy at an All Parties Conference hosted by the PPP at a five-star hotel here in the federal capital today.
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has arrived at the venue, with other leaders expected to reach soon.
Shortly after reaching the APC venue, Bilawal criticised the ruling PTI, saying on Twitter “2 years of this selected experiment has had disastrous consequences”.
Tell govt ‘ghabrana nahi hei!’
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also arrived at the hotel where she spoke to the media ahead of the APC, saying today “is a gathering of 12 parties and all Opposition leaders are coming”.
“The government is very confused and nervous; tell them there is nothing to worry about,” Rehman said, using Prime Minister Imran Khan’s much touted slogan of “Ghabrana nahi hei [You need not worry]!”
She said the APC would decide on how the Opposition parties would proceed ahead, with talks between the participating leaders.
“Asif Zardari will give a welcome note,” she said. “[The speech of] Mian Nawaz Sharif will be streamed live. Then Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal will address the gathering.”
The PPP leader said the Opposition parties would discuss the PTI regime’s two-year performance and an action plan would be drawn up in the APC.
Zardari, Nawaz to virtually attend
PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and will also address the APC, attended by nearly a dozen political parties, via video link and the broadcast is scheduled to be streamed live on social media.
“The PPP will provide a link on social media where the two leaders will deliver opening remarks,” the PPP had said in a statement earlier.
This will be the first political activity of the PML-N supremo since he left the country in November for treatment in London.
The announcement of a live broadcast comes even as PM Imran’s aide on political communication, Shahbaz Gill, warned of legal action if Nawaz’s address is aired.
Gill said it was not possible for an “absconding criminal” to take part in political activities and gives speeches.
“The Sharif family can tell nothing but lies. They are such [habitual] liars that they even lied about a disease,” Gill said on Twitter.
Nawaz had earlier agreed to virtually attend the conference on the invitation of Bilawal, who had called him to inquire after his health.
“Just spoke to Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. Enquired about his health. Also invited him to virtually attend opposition APC, hosted by PPP, on 20th September,” the PPP boss had tweeted.
Gathering of ‘accused and losers’
Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Shibli Faraz had on Saturday questioned the real status of Nawaz’s health after it was announced he would be participating in the APC.
The PML-N supremo should not consider the people “fools”, Faraz had said.
In a press conference alongside PM’s aide on accountability and interior, Shahzad Akbar, he said: “I have heard that Nawaz Sharif will deliver an address via video link […] When he has to appear before the court, he claims he is ill and now all of a sudden he is fit for politics.”
Akbar said as per the PEMRA’s regulations, “an absconder cannot address a press conference”.
Faraz added that the opposition’s APC would be a gathering of “accused and losers” that aims to spread chaos in the country. The Opposition wanted to rule the country to protect its “illegal wealth and properties”, he said.
JI to stay away
While all the major opposition parties — including JUI-F and Akhtar Mengal’s BNP-M — have agreed to join hands against the PM Imran’s government, former PTI ally Jamat-e-Islami decided to stay away from the APC describing its agenda as vague and objectives dubious.
“The JI could not sit with those parties which are equally responsible with the PTI for economic and social destruction of the country, and dubiously supported the legislative agenda of PTI to push the country in the slavery of colonial powers,” said JI chief Sirajul Haq while addressing Mujahid-e-Millat seminar in memory of late Maulana Abdus Satar Niazi on Saturday.
‘Fazl to attend APC’
Bilawal had extended a formal invitation to the JUI-F chief during a meeting at the latter’s residence, sources informed Geo News.
During the meeting, Senator Abdul Kareem, Shah Owais Noorani, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Akram Durrani and Maulana Ataur Rehman were present.
Bilawal had said after the meeting that a very “wholesome” and “detailed” discussion took place between both parties. He said Fazl had accepted his invitation to attend the conference.
“We will hold a joint press conference following the APC and our next course of action will be announced then,” he told reporters.
New election or in-house change?
The Opposition parties had decided to convene an APC on September 20 after a Rahbar Committee meeting had decided that it was time to show the incumbent government the door.
“The situation in the country has reached a stage where we cannot afford even a moment’s delay,” JUI-F’s Durrani had said.
“We want free and fair elections in the country, with no interference whatsoever,” he had further said, terming the 2018 general elections “a disgrace to the whole country”.
Durrani had said the Opposition parties were on the same page that giving the incumbent government one more day in power would be unjust. “This government has destroyed the country in its two years” of rule, he had added.
“The APC will decide whether there will be a new election or an in-house change,” he had said.