Islamabad: Leaders of the opposition parties on Sunday announced their plans to “launch protests inside and outside the parliament after Eidul Fitr” and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to “chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan”.
The announcement was made by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at a press conference that followed an iftar-dinner he hosted at Zardari House in Islamabad and which was attended by a delegation of arch rivals-turned-allies PML-N and other major opposition parties.
“Today we invited all the opposition leaders to this iftar-dinner and I am thankful that they came,” Bilawal said.
“We have decided to keep on meeting to discuss Pakistan’s issues and find solutions to the people’s problems,” Bilawal added before announcing the opposition parties’ plan to launch protests post-Eid.
Bilawal also said that JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman has called an All Parties Conference (APC) after Eid where a joint strategy against the government will be finalised.
The JUI-F leader corroborated the plan himself, saying that “Pakistan is emerging as a weak country in the world due to some incapable people ascending to power.”
Rehman said that “during the APC a joint strategy for all opposition parties will be identified so as to stabilise this sinking ship”.
PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that “there is an agreement among opposition parties that the government has failed to run this government.”
“We will keep on consulting each other and after Eid there will be an APC where it will be decided what the opposition’s joint strategy should be,” he added.
Abbasi, the former premier, said that despite the alliance “the opposition parties’ philosophy and their take on policy matters could be different.” He also said that “the goal as of today is not to throw out the government but to solve Pakistan’s problems such as inflation as providing economic stability.”
National Party chief Mir Hasil Bizenjo said that “the APC after Eid will give birth to a new and historic opposition alliance.” He further said that “the opposition can overturn the incumbent government tomorrow if it wants but that’s not the only issue as there are now a plethora of other problems facing the country.”
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, meanwhile, thanked Bilawal for inviting her to the iftar-dinner. She said that she “accepted the invitation because Bilawal had paid us a condolence visit after my mother’s death which was our first meeting contrary to media reports”.
She defended the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed by former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, saying that the civilian governments managed to finish two successive terms because of that accord. “This had never happened before,” she added. “That Charter of Democracy did not end there. The new generation will keep on adding to it.”
Maryam acknowledged that “the PML-N and PPP have been arch rivals” but said that “our upbringing is such that when we become allies we also do that with full sincerity.”
Bilawal said that “the CoD was not against the establishment”, and stressed that “today’s gathering as well is not against anyone but is in favour of Pakistan and its people.”
Earlier, Maryam’s convoy, which includes Captain Safdar, former information minister Pervaiz Rasheed and party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, had Abbasi’s residence where a meeting was held. Hamza Shahbaz had also joined in shortly before the PML-N delegation left for Zardari House.
Bilawal had greeted and received the PML-N delegation upon their arrival. The PPP chairman embraced and shook hands with Hamza before inviting the party leaders in.
The iftar-dinner was also attended by Jamaat-i-Islami’s Liaqat Baloch, Qaumi Watan Party Chairman Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao as well as Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir.
JUI-F’s Rehman was unable to make it in time for the iftar-dinner. He, however, arrived before the leaders began their discussions.
The assortment of opposition leaders held discussions lasting almost two hours ahead of their press conference.