PPP’s & PML-N newfound camaraderie almost over, says Khawaja Asif

The opposition parties’ alliance seems to be falling apart with a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), former defence minister Khawaja Asif, conceding that he was never in favour of his party cosying up too much to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and also predicting that the two parties would soon part  ways.

“You will soon see fissures in the alliance. Mistrust between the two parties [PML-N and PPP] is growing and I think it will further increase in the coming days,” Asif said during an interview on the Express News show ‘To The Point With Mansoor Ali Khan’.

The PML-N leader’s remarks come in the wake of the parties in the joint opposition, particularly the PPP and the PML-N, growing suspicious of each other after they failed to unseat the Senate chairman through a no-confidence motion despite having a majority in the upper house.

“I hope the alliance gets stronger but look at [what happened] last year when they [PPP] first wanted us to nominate Shehbaz Sharif for the prime minister’s office and we all know how that turned out,” he said referring to opposition parties’ previous short-lived alliance which had come to an end when the PPP had refused to vote for the PML-N president.

On PPP senators submitting their resignations to party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari after the failure of the no-trust move in Senate, Asif maintained that it was just a “political gimmick”.

“To be honest, this is nothing. I will believe it when they actually step down as senators,” he added.

Asif drew parallels with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarians submitting their resignations to the National Assembly. “It’s just drama and nothing will come out of it.”

Hinting that the PPP had betrayed the joint opposition in the Senate, the PML-N leader said: They [PPP] don’t want to lose the Sindh government. We have nothing to lose.”

Asif also disclosed that he was never too comfortable with the PML-N and the PPP’s growing affinity.

“I was against so many of our party leaders going to his [Bilawal’s] iftar dinner. I didn’t tell her [Maryam Nawaz] to not go there but I had my reservations over such a big party delegation attending the dinner,” he added.

When asked whether or not he would accept Maryam taking over the reins of the party given her aggressive stance, Asif said: “She is our vice president and we won’t have any problem even if she becomes the head of the party.”

PPP response

PPP’s Senator Sherry Rehman expressed her disappointment at Asif’s comments.

“His statement is tantamount to smashing the opposition alliance into pieces,” she said.

“He [Asif] wasn’t even in the country when the no-confidence motion in the Senate was moved. How does he know what happened,” she asked.

The PPP senator sought an explanation from the PML-N over its senior leader’s remarks.

“The PPP too has its reservations [over the policies of other opposition parties] but never expressed them openly to keep the alliance intact,” she claimed.

In a statement, PPP Information Secretary Nafeesa Shah asked Maryam to take notice of Asif’s remarks.

She added that the statement was aimed at creating trouble.
“The PPP entered into an alliance with the PML-N for the sake of democracy even though its activists were unhappy about it,” she said.

“The PML-N itself has been unable to keep its senators in check.”