by Zulfiqar Ahmad & Ali Hussain
ISLAMABAD:Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is all set to take up the issue of alleged military intervention in civilian matters at an Iftar dinner on Friday (today) which is likely to be attended by like-minded political parties.
In wake of his recent tirade against the powerful military establishment which widened the gap between ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the PPP, the PPP supremo is visibly making efforts to garner support of like-minded opposition political parties for strengthening his position that many believe has been weakened after his Tuesday address.
Insiders claimed that the party is somewhat isolated especially after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cancelled a scheduled meeting with Asif Zardari reportedly on the advice of his close aides who persuaded him that any meeting with Zardari after his recent outburst against the military may have political repercussions for the PML-N.
Some PPP leaders who wished not to be named declared that to decline a scheduled meeting with the head of the second largest political party of the country is at best discourteous and at worst an attempt to belittle him. They expressed anger at Nawaz Sharif’s “soft corner for the military” but added that “when the time comes this soft corner would be of no use as the military is wary of a man who has a track record of sending the top military general on forced retirement for his vested interests”.
A senior PPP leader said that invitations are being sent to all opposition political parties to attend the Iftar dinner being held at Zardari House which, according to a senior party leader, will be sort of an all-parties conference of the opposition parties that will take stock of the prevailing political situation.
To a question, he said that the party leadership had no idea that PML-N will forget its past this soon as it was PPP which stood by Nawaz Sharif when PTI chairman Imran Khan marched towards Islamabad last year, tightening the noose around the PML-N government.
The other political parties also deplored the last minute refusal by the Prime Minister to cancel a scheduled meeting with Asif Zardari, saying it was very rude and should not have happened.
Senator Shahi Syed of Awami National Party (ANP) said that this is beyond comprehension why the Prime Minister cancelled a scheduled meeting with a man who had always advocated reconciliation. About participation of his party at the Iftar dinner, he said that the party leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain will represent the ANP as the party president Asfandyar Wali Khan had some health issues, otherwise he would have certainly attended the dinner.
A delegation of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) consisting of Dr Farooq Sattar, Abdul Rashid Godail and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui will attend the dinner, according to an MQM leader who wished not to be named. Jamiat Uelema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), a government coalition partner, has also been invited to the Iftar dinner and according to Jan Achakzai, spokesperson for the JUI-F chief, the party leadership has accepted the invitation and Maulana Fazlur Rehman will attend.
When contacted, senior PML-N leader and Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafar-ul-Haq was not aware if any invitation was also sent to the ruling party to attend the Iftar dinner. Meanwhile, PTI held an emergent meeting with party chairman Imran Khan in the chair and made it crystal clear that any statement against the military at a time when it is engaged in war against militancy and terrorism in the country is unacceptable. The party plainly stated that to skip the Friday iftar dinner given by PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, for which he has extended invitation to all opposition political parties of the country including the PTI.
Source: Business Recorder