Maryam invites Bilawal amid reports of escalating cooperation against govt

LAHORE: On the invitation of Maryam Nawaz, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari arrived at Jati Umra on Sunday amid reports of escalating cooperation among opposition parties against the government.

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The meeting is 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 the invitation of Maryam Nawaz. We are meeting as a single party cannot steer the country out of crises,” Bilawal had said on Saturday. Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz had said she had brought on board the top and senior party leadership, including her incarcerated father and opposition leader, for her meeting with the PPP chairperson.

Both leaders exchanged views on the current political situation of the country during the meeting and consulted each other on starting a campaign and to bring the public on the roads against the government.

This is the second meeting of the leadership of the two main opposition parties 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.”

“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 journalists.

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

The leader added, “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.”

A joint notification issued shortly after the Maryam-Bilawal meeting read: “Lengthy consultations took place between the two leaders.”

“Leaders from both the parties were part of the consultations [wherein] the current situation of the country was analysed in detail,” it added.

“Both [Maryam and Bilawal] agreed that all aspects of life in the country are on a downtrend.”

“Country is being pushed into deep quicksand of economic deterioration [and all economic indicators pointing to an extreme crisis,” the notification added.

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