Maryam hosts Bilawal amid reports of strengthening cooperation against govt

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on the invitation of PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz, arrived at Jati Umra on Sunday amid reports of increasing cooperation among opposition parties against the government.

The meeting was being held in the backdrop of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s arrest in the fake accounts case last week. The PML-N’s Quaid, Nawaz Sharif, is already serving a jail term in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment case.

“I will go to Jati Umra on Sunday for a lunch on invitation of Maryam Nawaz. We are meeting as a single party cannot steer the country out of crises,” Bhutto-Zardari had said on Saturday. Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz had said she had taken on board the top and senior party leadership, including her interned father and opposition leader, for her meeting with the PPP chairperson.

This was the second meeting between the Sharif and Bhutto scions in less than a month.

Last month, Maryam had been invited to an iftar hosted by Bilawal for opposition parties. After the event, the opposition parties held a joint press conference and announced to “launch protests inside and outside the parliament after Eidul Fitr” and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to “chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan”. Following the event, Maryam had acknowledged that “the PML-N and PPP have been arch rivals” but said that “our upbringing is such that when we become allies we also do that with full sincerity.”

PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair, while talking to journalists earlier today, said that the meeting itself would be a big political development.

“This meeting would be a matter of concern for the government,” he said, adding that the two sides had already decided to launch a campaign against the government. He said that the two parties need to work together due to a number of problems.

Criticising the PTI-led government, he said that the ruling regime lacks a [competent] team, plan and, a vision. “It is an obligation for the opposition to make its presence felt.”

Former provincial minister, Rana Sanaullah, however, called the meeting “a matter of routine”. He added that the two sides would discuss the political scenario of the country.

A decision about agitation [against the government] will be taken in the All Parties Conference (APC), he said, adding that the PML-N would follow the decisions taken by the APC and not dictate the conference.

“PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif has met with Bilawal a day ago, [but] if Bilawal wants to call on Shahbaz Sharif again, he can meet him.”

Forming alliances

The leadership of the two main opposition parties first met in May in Islamabad, with both parties describing the meeting informal to establish “rapport” with each other. However, the PML-N and PPP leaders are calling this meeting more significant for launch of a joint movement against the government.

“The fathers of both Maryam and Bilawal are in jail and both young leaders have massive public appeal and a joint protest drive may put the Imran Khan government on the back foot over its ambitious agenda against the opposition,” said a PML-N leader privy to the development while speaking to Dawn.

He said since the top leadership of both parties was in jail, it was time that the young leadership conducted aggressive politics in the face of the Imran government’s “vindictive” actions against the opposition, attack on judges of the superior courts and the anti-people budget.

“Both parties are likely to build a momentum against the government on these issues in the first phase and protest will be the agenda in the next phase, which will probably be led by Maulana Fazl,” he added.

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