Shahbaz, Fazl to discuss future of PDM in dinner meeting tonight

Shahbaz, Fazl to discuss future of PDM in dinner meeting tonight

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

ISLAMABAD: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif will hold an important meeting tonight (Friday) to discuss the future of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) with its president JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. 

Sources said the PDM chief will host Sharif for a dinner meeting, in which the other eight members of the Opposition alliance will also  take part. 

The PDM is scheduled to hold an important meeting tomorrow and take important decisions on whether the PPP and the ANP will be taken back in the alliance’s fold or not.

On the other hand, as per reports, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is also establishing contacts with PDM parties. The PPP chairperson recently went to Dubai where he met Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) chief Akhtar Mengal.

The PML-N president has been focusing his efforts on bringing the PPP and the ANP back into the PDM fold to put pressure on the government once again.

According to veteran Geo anchor and journalist Shahzeb Khanzada, the gulf in the party leadership seems to be widening over the PML-N’s narrative, choice of leadership and other issues.

Khanzada said during his show ‘Aaj Khanzada Kay Sath’ that the group in the party being led by Maryam wants to move forward with her father’s narrative.

At the same time, another group that favours Shahbaz’s stance of reconciliation, is backing the younger Sharif’s stance of reconciliation with the PPP and the powers that be, to win the general elections 2023.

Sources said the PML-N leadership is quite anxious as the gulf deepens between the two opposing camps and the party can disintegrate if the differences are not resolved.

Khanzada, citing sources, said the party’s senior leadership wanted Shahbaz to be given a “free hand” to hold dialogue with members of state institutions and define their limits.

Another bone of contention between the two leaders is, as per sources, the issue of the PPP leaving the PDM. Shahbaz has taken exception to the rigid stance adopted by Maryam and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the issue.

As per sources, Shahbaz had been displeased over how the issue was handled and wondered why the PPP was pressurised if it was not in favour of resigning from the assemblies.

Who would lead the party?

Quoting sources, Khanzada said Shahbaz wanted to go to London to have a face-to-face conversation with his elder brother, to convince him to take a final decision as to who would lead the party and ultimately, be its candidate for the next prime minister.

He also wanted Nawaz to finalise the party’s narrative. The former Punjab chief minister, as per sources, wants Maryam to step back from her anti-establishment narrative and desist from political activities for the time being. If Shahbaz gets the free hand to pursue his narrative, it is expected that he may hold a dialogue with Opposition parties. Otherwise, sources said, it is feared he may quit politics.

Sources said differences between the two groups have intensified after Shahbaz was released on bail as his supporters believe Maryam does not understand politics, despite the fact that she is a “crowd puller”.

The Shahbaz group within the PML-N believes he is the right choice to lead the party and must hold dialogue with all stakeholders.

PPP, ANP can rejoin PDM if they apologise: Fazl

Earlier this week, Fazl had said the PPP and ANP can rejoin the alliance if they apologised to the PDM for going against its decisions.

The PDM chief’s comments came during his meeting with PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif at the latter’s residence in Lahore on Tuesday.

Fazl, addressing a press conference after the meeting, said both parties — PPP and ANP — had been given sufficient time to get back to the PDM leadership, but they have not done so.

“There are currently no proposals to invite PPP and ANP at the PDM meeting on May 29,” he had said. However, during the meeting, the leaders will decide the future of PPP and ANP in the alliance.

The fallout

On April 6, the ANP, and on April 11, the PPP had parted ways with the PDM after the latter served it a show-cause notice — as PPP had gotten Yousuf Raza Gilani appointed as the leader of the Opposition in the Senate, going against PDM’s decisions, and ANP supported it.

PPP was asked to explain its move to get appointed its candidate, Gillani, as Leader of Opposition in Senate, without first obtaining the consent of parties of the Opposition alliance.

ANP, on the other hand, was issued a notice for supporting the PPP in its efforts to get Gillani designated by roping in senators from the government’s ally Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) to complete the numbers required. 

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