ISLAMABAD - Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is struggling to convince the PPP and PML-N to launch a campaign to oust PTI-led government as the opposition parties get together at an All Parties Conference today (June 26).

The JUI-F head, known to be a strong opponent of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, wants the opposition parties to go “all out” against the government in a bid to remove it from power.

Political sources told The Nation that so far the PPP and the PML-N have not given a green signal to support such a move.

The PPP and the PML-N, the sources said, want the government to continue but are ready to start a soft mass contact campaign to point out the government’s failures.

PPP and the PML-N sources said top leaders Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz will attend the APC despite the two parties’ suggestions to change the schedule due to the budget session of the parliament.

The JUI-F chief had refused to accept the PPP and PML-N proposals saying the “budget is not important” as the opposition had already rejected it.

Fazl was of the view that there was no reason to participate in the budget session since the opposition was expected to take the same budget in the public campaign against the government.

Bilawal, Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz confirmed their participation later on the insistence of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Wants Opp to go all out against ruling PTI

“We had already announced the schedule so it would have been awkward to change it,” said a close aide of the JUI-F chief, adding most of the opposition parties had confirmed participation.

Senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira told The Nation that the PPP would discuss the government’s failures at the APC. “They (the government) have given an anti-people budget. They have betrayed the nation after false promises in the elections. We will discuss all that,” he added.

Nayyar Bokhari, PPP’s Secretary General, said Bilawal had proposed the change in schedule only because the party wanted to challenge the budget inside the national assembly. “We wanted to give them a tough time in the assembly. Otherwise we were ready for the APC,” he maintained.

PPP Vice President Maryam Nawaz said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan and his fake government have made fun of the country’s economy.” She said the opposition will not let the government befool the nation anymore.

Fazl had earlier telephoned leaders of the opposition parties to attend the APC. Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, National Party leader Hasil Bizenjo and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai have also confirmed participation in the APC. Akhtar Mengal, the chief of the Balochistan National Party (Mengal) is also expected to participate.

On June 17, the JUI-F chief had met Bilawal at his residence, and later held a meeting with Shehbaz Sharif to discuss the agenda of the APC.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed not to issue a National Reconciliation Ordinance-type deal even if the opposition starts a campaign against the government.

The Prime Minister said the opposition can protest but it does not matter to him. “We have to answer for our performance and members of parliament have a duty to inform the public about those responsible for the economic crisis,” he said at a PTI meeting.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak predicted the opposition’s APC would fail. He was confident that the budget 2019-20 for the upcoming fiscal year would be passed despite the opposition’s protests.

Earlier, Bilawal urged the PTI-led government to withdraw its anti-people budget because over 8 million more people have already fallen below poverty line.

He said ‘tin pot dictators’ had called even Fatima Jinnah a traitor but the nations rejected those dictators and threw them in the dustbin of history.

“People have sacrificed a lot for this democracy so that we all can sit in this parliament. He said that parliament is not complete until the representatives of North and South Waziristan are produced in this house otherwise the history will record that these members and their constituencies were deprived of representation in this house,” he said.

This month, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz hosted a meeting with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at her Jati Umra residence to devise a joint strategy for giving a tough time to the government.

Both leaders had pondered over possibilities of resisting the government and expressed unity to oppose the passing of the budget proposed by the federal government.

This was the second formal meeting within weeks as earlier Bilawal arranged a grand Iftar party for the opposition leaders and also invited Maryam Nawaz.

Bilawal and Maryam agree that there should be no big dharnas (sit-ins) or protests as they do not have plans to topple the government.

The fathers of both political leaders are currently behind bars. Nawaz Sharif is completing his sentence after being convicted by an accountability court in the Al Azizia Steel Mills reference, while former president Asif Ali Zardari has been remanded into National Accountability Bureau’s custody in a money laundering case. He was arrested from his house in Islamabad’s F-8 on June 10.