ARD components bicker at meeting: PML-N asks PPPP to explain government contact
* ARD welcomes govt initiative on Dera Bugti and Sui
ISLAMABAD: The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) bickered amongst itself on Monday, as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) asked the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) to explain why it was talking to the government.
The ARD meeting also failed to nominate members for a proposed committee meant to finalise modalities for an anti-President Pervez Musharraf campaign with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). Sources privy to the meeting told Daily Times that Zafar Ali Shah, senior PML-N leader, asked PPPP leaders to explain why the party was following a two-pronged policy.
The PML-N leader demanded the PPPP inform the ARD about the exact nature of its dialogue with the government. He also asked them to give the names of government functionaries with whom the PPPP was talking to.
PPPP leaders told the meeting that their party would never comprise on the basic principles of the ARD. They said dialogue with the government should not be considered an inclination to strike a deal with President Musharraf.
PML-N leaders said reports of a government-PPPP dialogue sent wrong messages to the public. They said the ARD’s existence would be in danger in such a situation. Speaking at a press conference, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, ARD secretary general, denied reports of the PML-N expressing reservations over the PPPP’s contact with the government.
He said the PPPP had assured the PML-N that it would not comprise on the basic principles of the ARD. Claiming that the ARD was united over a one-point agenda against the president, he said the alliance was based on solid ground. Defending the alliance’s position for not nominating members for the proposed committee, he said the ARD did not want to make any decision in haste because the mode of the opposition’s anti-Musharraf campaign would be based on the committee’s report.
He said the ARD principally supported the MMA and Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM) campaign against President Musharraf. He said the committee would be mandated to decide whether the opposition should start its anti-Musharraf campaign by closing shops and other businesses or by calling a transport strike. He claimed that the committee might be set up to prepare its recommendations before April 2. However, ARD sources said the committee could not be set up or prepare the modalities of the protest before mid-April.
Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said the ARD would launch the next phase of its anti-Musharraf campaign by the end of April. He said processions and public meetings would be organised in every major city of the country. He also welcomed the latest initiative of the government to resolve the crises in Dera Bugti and Sui. However, he called the initiative a success of the ARD. He said the ARD had forced the government to politically resolve the crises.
The ARD meeting also demanded a roundtable conference on Balochistan, inviting every stakeholder from the troubled province. It asked for an immediate release of what it called “political prisoners”. The meeting asked the government to allow popular leaders to return to the country and play their role in national politics. It also refused to accept President Musharraf as the president and army chief.
The meeting decided that a team consisting of several ARD leaders would soon visit the Northern Areas to survey the law and order in the region. Makhdoom Amin Fahim chaired the ARD meeting, which was also attended by PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq.