LAHORE - The PTI and MQM have so far made no consideration in connection with supporting Awami Muslim League chief, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed to replace the incumbent National Assembly Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah.
Claiming to win the PTI parliamentarians’ support, Sheikh Rasheed maintained he is making efforts to get backing of the MQM for becoming new Opposition Leader in the National Assembly by showing majority with him instead of the PPP that is currently holding the position. He remarked the House needed a new Opposition Leader who reflects true aspirations of the masses, as Khursheed Shah is ‘playing friendly’.
When contacted, PTI Punjab president Ejaz Chaudhry said, “Though Sheikh Rasheed is an ally but there is no plan under discussion or consideration in the party regarding bringing a new Opposition Leader in the National Assembly.” He added that being a parliamentarian, it is the right of the AML chief to bring a change in the House; however the PTI is not onboard in any such plan.
To a query regarding the PPP’s role as a friendly opposition, Ejaz maintained that his party has filled the gap and played a role of the real opposition in the Centre and Punjab by exposing rulers’ mismanagement and corrupt practices.
On the other hand, MQM senior leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said, “I have heard no such discussion in the party and it could be the plan of Shaikh Rasheed.”
To a query about Sheikh Rasheed’s contact with MQM leader Babar Ghauri, he said contacts between parliamentarians inside and outside the Parliament are part of politics and the AML chief’s call to Babar should be considered as a part of such contacts and nothing else.
Commenting over Sheikh Rasheed’s statement regarding clinching support of both parties, some PTI leaders said that it wouldn’t be possible for their party to bracket itself with the MQM due to a long history of bitterness. They said that one of their leaders and scores of activists were killed by the MQM activists during the May 11 elections in Karachi and May 12, 2007 mayhem on the event of arrival of Chief Justice of Pakistan.
They added the PTI had also taken a charge sheet against the MQM’s London-based leaders to the Scotland Yard to investigate them for their involvement in crimes on Pakistani soil. The PTI leaders said the party chief had also called MQM chief Altaf Hussain a terrorist for igniting violence. They added that keeping in view the incidents it would always be unlikely for the PTI to bracket itself with the MQM even under extreme political circumstances.
While, political circles in Islamabad were of the opinion that the MQM, which considers itself under immense pressure against backdrop of the ongoing operation in Karachi, might use Sheikh Rasheed’s card to press the federal government to get certain benefits.