PPP appears to be in two minds about prime minister

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) appears to be in two minds about how to proceed with respect to the Panama leaks with its chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari leading the faction demanding an explanation from the Prime Minister and advising him to resign while co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s spokesman, Senate Chairman and Leader of the Opposition are warning of a possible threat to democracy and indirectly holding the ubiquitous establishment responsible.

Background discussions with various PPP leaders revealed that the party’s co-chairman wants the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to complete its five-year constitutional term; however he fully supports an investigation into the allegations levelled against the Prime Minister’s children.

An insider who wished not to be named said that Syed Khursheed Shah is speaking the language of co-chairman Zardari while Aitzaz Ahsan has adopted a tough stance against the government which mirrors that of Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik was summoned to London by Zardari to discuss the situation following a telephone call by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to the former President on Friday. JUI-F is at present a major ally of the Prime Minister, as it was of the Zardari-led government from 2008-13.

The telephonic contact by JUI-F chief with PPP co-chairman came hours after Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali refused to form a judicial commission as requested in the government letter dated 22 April citing the terms of reference as too wide and open-ended which would render the commission “toothless”.

According to insiders, Rehman Malik is scheduled to be back by Sunday evening and he is expected to bring a message from the co-chairman to the PPP leadership as the final line of action of the party.

When contacted, Farhatullah Babar, the spokesperson for the PPP co-chairman, said the party has a clear stance on the Panama leaks, adding PPP does not want the issue of offshore accounts to die down, as it is the turning point in the history of Pakistan.

Babar added that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, as the chairman of the party, is taking an active part in the country’s politics and his recent statements should not be taken as contrary to the co-chairman’s stance.

After the Supreme Court’s decision on the proposed judicial commission, he added that the party has started consultations and the decision about a final course of action would be taken after the Prime Minister’s expected speech in National Assembly on Monday.

“Supreme Court’s decision has vindicated the opposition’s stance and now the ball is in the Prime Minister’s court…let’s see what cat comes out of the bag,” he added. The Prime Minister is scheduled to attend the session on Monday and give a statement which analysts believe would simply invite the opposition parties to negotiate to resolve the matter.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016