PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday ruled out dialogue with the government, adding that the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) will enter the “second phase” of its anti-government campaign after the next rally in Lahore on December 13.
“The time for dialogue [with the government] has long passed. When they talk about reconciliation, they do it out of fear,” he said.
“They are cowards who can’t face the people. They must be getting intelligence reports about the number of people gearing up to march to Islamabad,” he remarked.
He said that the “first phase” of the 11-party opposition alliance’s anti-government campaign has been successful, adding that the PDM would move forward with the “second phase” after December 13.
Bilawal made the remarks while speaking to reporters in Lahore alongside PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz. The PPP chairman had paid a visit to Maryam at her Jati Umra residence to offer condolences over the demise of her grandmother.
Speaking to the media, Bilawal said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan changes his stance every day. First he threatened us […] and now he’s saying I am ready for dialogue and ready to do anything […]. Let me tell him, that this is not how politics works.”
He said that instead of trying for dialogue, it was time for the premier to “realise the situation” and “hand in his resignation”.
Responding to a question about parties within the opposition alliance distancing themselves from PDM, he said: “Until the establishment’s involvement in politics is stopped […] no party from PDM will stand back.”
When asked about the decision for opposition lawmakers to submit their resignations from the provincial and national assemblies, he said that the PPP would discuss the matter during the meeting of its Central Executive Committee.
Bilawal added that all parties in PDM were democratic and they did not want to “create conditions which could benefit a third party”.
Meanwhile, Maryam claimed that “sitting ministers” were contacting the opposition, adding that she did not see it fit to acknowledge or respond to them.
Maryam said that PM Imran, who “kept saying for three years that he will not give an NRO”, is now contacting the party’s senior leadership “to sit down for talks” and solve issues in parliament “without resignations or a long march”.
“We don’t accept your request. Neither the nation nor the PDM will give you an NRO,” she said.
‘Sultans of corruption’
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad shortly after, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that the opposition was moving ahead with staging rallies, despite an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, in an “unsuccessful attempt to pressurise the government”.
“Their panic has increased to this extent that they are taking steps that should have been taken at the very end,” he said, in an apparent reference to the PDM’s decision to submit their resignations from the provincial and national assemblies.
“They are the sultans of corruption,” he said, adding that former premier Nawaz Sharif, ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had brought corruption to politics.
“They created new levels of corruption to protect their personal interests. They looted money from the country and took it abroad […] now they want sacrifices from the people of Pakistan.”
He added that the opposition would not succeed in trying to pressurise the government.
“They stayed quiet for two years and approached us in several ways. They tried to pressure us in various ways for an NRO. But after the [legislation] for fulfilling the Financial Action Task Force action plan, they realised they had no other option.”
He added that the opposition was “forcing” people to hand in their resignations. “Every one now knows that these are different political parties that have a different [agenda]. To say that there are in contact with us, that is a lie.
“They are looking for a way [out]. If that is what they want then we will give it to them. But we are talking about [a way out of] their current situation. Not about an NRO.”
He added that the statements made by the opposition showed that they are aware their days in politics are coming to an end.
“Hand in your resignations, there will be no pressure on us. But give them in a proper manner. Don’t just do it for show.”
He said that the political future of the opposition, especially Rehman, was at a “dead-end street”. “They can’t go forward nor can they move back.”