ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) for providing indirect support to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government by creating division within the ranks of the opposition.
Talking informally to a group of reporters at his official residence here on Saturday, Mr Shah alleged that the PTI had in the past too tried to divide the opposition, but this time it had caused a “major crack” and the government would definitely take advantage of the situation.
He claimed that retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, who was appointed chief election commissioner (CEC) before the 2013 general elections, was the nominee of the PTI. He said since caretaker prime minister retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso had been appointed by CEC Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim after the failure of the PPP and the PML-N to agree on any name, therefore, it could be said that a PTI-nominee had appointed the caretaker prime minister under whose supervision the general elections were held in 2013.
“This is a historic fact and record is also available,” Mr Shah said. “Thus, the general elections were conducted by the nominees of the PTI,” he said in his apparent reference to the repeated allegations of the PTI regarding a ‘muk muka’ (covert deal) between the PPP and the PML-N.
Khursheed Shah assails MQM for its ‘unclear’ position in parliament
After the elections, the PTI alleged massive rigging and staged a 126-day protest sit-in which led to the resignation of the CEC, besides appointment of a judicial commission to probe the charges of rigging which later proved to be false.
In July 2012, during the process of the nomination of the new CEC, the then opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had claimed that he had proposed three names to the government for appointment as the CEC after consultations with the opposition parties, including the PTI. Besides proposing the name of Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, Chaudhry Nisar had proposed the names of retired Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid and retired Justice Shakirullah Jan for appointment as the CEC.
Mr Shah said that he felt pain to see the division in the ranks of the opposition. He also criticised the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for its “unclear” position in parliament. He said recently the MQM had voted for the PML-N nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the election for the prime minister.
“Had Shah Mehmood Qureshi come to me with the request to vacate the office of the opposition leader for them, I would have definitely requested my party to consider the request,” he said. However, he said, instead of coming to him, the PTI went to the MQM and held a news conference.
The differences between the two main parties — PPP and PTI — had surged when the latter started lobbying to get the slot of the opposition leader in the National Assembly with the support of the MQM. The two parties had already held a meeting in Karachi last week.
When contacted, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi denied Mr Shah’s claim that the CEC and the caretaker prime minister in 2013 were the PTI nominees.
“I totally deny this,” he said, adding that he could not want to say more since he had great respect for Mr Shah.
When asked as to why he had not discussed the proposal of change of opposition leader with Mr Shah, the PTI vice-chairman claimed that it was the MQM which had approached his party with the proposal of changing the opposition leader. He said the MQM had in the past supported Mr Shah for the office of the opposition leader and since they now had some differences with the PPP in Sindh, they had decided to withdraw their support.
Mr Qureshi said that Mr Shah should realise the fact that he did not have the numbers to continue as the opposition leader after joining of hands by the MQM and the PTI.
The PTI leader, who had worked with Mr Shah for many years when he was in the PPP, said that Khursheed Shah actually had no powers and he was under the influence of party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Both Khursheed Shah and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had no role in the party which was being directly controlled by Mr Zardari. He said that the PTI had the reports that there had been a backdoor contact between the government and the opposition over the issue of the appointment of the new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2017