ISLAMABAD - The verbal feud between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is getting bitter as the nation awaits the announcement about general elections. There has been no official commitment about the time of holding elections but it is believed the polls could be held by February after the delimitation process is completed. The PPP and the PML-N were close allies just last month when the National Assembly was dissolved three days ahead of its five-year term. PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari served as the foreign minister and several other PPP leaders also held cabinet slots under the then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif – the PML-N President.
Until the first week of the August, the two parties appreciated each other’s performance in the coalition government which included about a dozen of political parties with different ideologies.
But now only the PML-N and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) – both part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement - are apparent allies with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement seen as a partner.
Over the weekend, after an extensive two-day meeting, the PPP Central Executive Committee (CEC) shed light on the party’s concerns and future strategies. One of the key topics discussed during this meeting was the PPP’s apprehensions regarding the caretaker setup. PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari intends to consult his political allies about the party’s concerns and seek guidance on navigating the intricate political landscape. These discussions are expected to revolve around issues such as the alleged halt in development projects in Sindh and reported bureaucratic non-cooperation in Punjab.
The PPP meeting also delved into the considerable influence and resources allegedly allocated to PML-N members within the caretaker setup, including access to development funds and cabinet positions. During the two-day meeting of the PPP’s CEC in Lahore, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly criticized PML-N supremo and former Prime Minister - Nawaz Sharif. Bilawal expressed firm opposition to discussions involving PML-N and Nawaz Sharif in the future government. Bilawal also refused to recognize Nawaz Sharif as a potential future prime minister. He pointed out that the current government is led by PML-N, and individuals leaning towards the PPP are facing obstacles, including the demolition of houses belonging to PPP supporters. He stressed the need for a level playing field, stating that they do not seek power but request unhindered progress. PPP leaders Faisal Karim Kundi and Nadeem Afzal Chan also took jabs at PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, who had claimed forming an alliance with MQM-P and JUI-F. They emphasized the historical support given by PPP leaders to PML-N. PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi responded by stating that PML-N had never proposed contesting elections together with PPP and discussed the achievements during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure, including significant progress in electricity generation. He maintained that Nawaz Sharif would become the country’s premier for the fourth time and the urged party workers to prepare to welcome him back. Khawaja Saad Rafique responded to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s statements against PML-N, referring to them as election stunts, and accused the PPP leadership of supporting ‘Project Imran.’