The PPP leadership seems reluctant to join the JUI-F led Azadi March towards Islamabad and planned sit-in. The refusal of PPP leadership to join the JUI-F led long march has turned the relations between two parties sour and bitter. Both sides have accused each other of playing games. Now both sides are trying to normalize the situation after the exchange of harsh statements.
The PPP leadership has strong reservations and concerns regarding the Azadi March and sit-in. There are serious concerns of PPP leadership that long march and sit-in could derail the democratic process in the country.
There are serious concerns in the PPP that long march and sit-in might create the situation and conditions which could be used as an excuse to topple the democracy and to install an undemocratic government. The PPP leadership wants to get some assurances and pledges from JUI-F before joining the long march.
I spoke to some senior PPP leaders on this issue to get some idea that why PPP is reluctant to join the long march and sit-in. The PPP leaders confirmed that they have serious concerns regarding the democracy and possible intervention of undemocratic forces in a volatile situation. They made it clear that PPP leaders also wanted to oust the PTI government as soon as possible but not at the cost of the democratic process and constitutional rule. They told me that there are many issues and questions that need to be sorted out and answered before the launch of such long march and sit- in.
They also said that PPP leadership is not in favour of using religious card against the government as it will spread hatred in the society. They said that they wanted to oppose this government on the basis of its poor performances and anti-poor policies. The PPP wanted to defeat the PTI government on the basis of issue-based politics and through mass mobilization.
There is a general impression and perception that like Imran Khan’s famous 126 days long sit-in, there are certain forces behind the planned sit-in and long march of JUI-F. Both the PPP and PML-N wanted to make sure that they should not politically use for a hidden agenda. That is why both PPP and PML-N want to delay the long march for a couple of months to reset the agenda and their full involvement in the major decision making.
PML-N is also showing reluctance to join the long march. Maulana Fazlur Rehman met PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif twice in a week to convince him to join the long march. PML-N is going to make the final decision in this regard on 30th September. But it is clear that PML-N is also wanted to delay the long march for a couple of months and to make a joint announcement in this regard.
There are also differences on the issue of dissolving the current parliament to hold fresh elections between JUI-F and PPP leadership. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman wants to go all out against the PTI government to oust it from power. JUI-F is demanding the PTI government to resign, dissolving the parliament and holding the fresh elections.
On the other hand, PPP leadership wants to overthrow the PTI government but not in favor of dissolving the parliament and holding the fresh elections. The PPP’s announcement to stay away from long march and sit-in and only providing political and moral support did not go well with JUI-F leadership.
The JUI-F leaders have accused the PPP leadership to try to seek a deal in return for staying away from sit-in. On the other hand, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto has refused to support religion card in politics. JUI-F is certain to use the religion card to put pressure on the government and force it to resign. JUI-F chief has been making all possible efforts to force the government to step down since its election to power back in 2018.
Sources in opposition said that the Azadi March proposal was discussed in the Rahbar Committee’s meeting held on August 26 but the delegates from PML-N and PPP refused to assure the JUI-F of their parties’ complete support for the march. They, sources said, told the meeting’s convener and JUI-F leader Akram Durrani that the matter would be discussed with the respective party leaderships before taking a final decision.
Maulana Fazl tried to play it wisely by putting the ball in PML-N and PPP’s court. Without first having the matter discussed in the Rahbar Committee, he announced from the forum of JUI-F to launch Azadi March. This is because Fazl feared lack of support from major opposition parties and he unilaterally announced Azadi March to put pressure on PML-N and PPP. But this strategy has failed to work and there is a cold response from PML-N and PPP.
At a time when the leaderships of both parties are facing serious cases of corruption, money laundering, fake accounts and other offences, and are said to be in backdoor contacts with the ‘powerful quarters,’ they can hardly afford to do aggressive politics, something Fazl does not subscribe to.
The JUI-F chief, last month, had announced that his party had planned a “decisive” long march aimed at ousting the present “fake government” in October.
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