Opposition alliance president Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif believe struggle to oust incumbent government should continue with or without PPP
The 10-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), having postponed a planned long march after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) rejected calls to resign from Parliament en masse, on Thursday started to consider a potential scenario in which the alliance would be reduced to just nine component parties.
According to sources, Rehman separately talked to both former president Asif Zardari and Sharif by telephone to figure out a way forward for the anti-government movement. During his call with Zardari, Rehman was told that the PPP had decided to convene a meeting of its Central Executive Committee (CEC) after April 4 to review the proposal of submitting resignations from all assemblies.
The sources claimed that Rehman attempted to convince Zardari of the benefits of mass resignations, but was met with resistance, as the PPP believes that doing so would only strengthen the security establishment and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The PPP co-chairman also questioned why the long march had been linked to the issue of resignations, noting that the plan of action agreed upon during last year’s multi-party conference had designated resignations as a “last option.” He also said that after the Senate elections, the issue was redundant, as there was no remaining option to prevent the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from securing a majority in the Upper House of Parliament.
In a subsequent phone call with Sharif, according to sources, Rehman discussed his conversation with Zardari, with both leaders deliberating on a potential scenario where the PPP would no longer be a part of the PDM. Both men agreed that regardless of the PPP’s decision, the anti-government movement should continue and pledged to summon a new meeting of the PDM to discuss the future strategy after the PPP’s CEC meeting.
Earlier this week, the PDM announced that it was postponing its planned long march on Islamabad, originally set to commence on March 26. A visibly angry Rehman walked out of a press briefing after announcing the delay and highlighting that the PPP did not wish to resign with the other parties. Refusing to take any questions, he said nine of the 10 parties comprising the PDM were “on one page” while the PPP had “some reservations.”
At the time, leaked information from the meeting had suggested that Zardari had linked resignations to Sharif’s return from London, where he has been since 2019. PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz had reportedly responded by claiming her father’s life was in danger in Pakistan, adding that no one had the right to ask him to return in these conditions.