Bilawal to replace Shah as opposition leader

Source:  Tribune Published in Politics on Thursday, December 29, 2016

SUKKUR: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto will replace Khursheed Shah as the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly after his election to parliament.

The revelation by none other than Shah himself came a day after PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari announced that Bilawal would contest a by-election for a parliamentary seat from Larkana, the hometown of the Bhutto family.

“Bilawal Bhutto will be the leader of the opposition and I will assist him as his adviser while his father will also guide him on parliamentary politics,” Shah told journalists in Sukkur on Wednesday night. “[Bilawal’s sister] Bakhtawar Bhutto will also contest the next general elections.”

Bilawal and I will contest elections to be a part of this Parliament: Zardari

Referring to the four demands of his party, Shah said the PPP has made these demands for the sake of people of Pakistan and not to secure its political interests.

“We are going to put enormous pressure on the government by staging rallies and initiating a mass contact campaign. Bilawal Bhutto will address these rallies and mobilise public during the campaign which will start from Punjab in January, 2017,” he added.

Commenting on the recent statement of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan regarding NAB chairman’s appointment by the top court, Shah said it was a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“The prime minister had picked the incumbent NAB chairman, while I, as the leader of the opposition, had endorsed his pick. After Nisar’s statement, the prime minister has lost moral ground to stay in office,” he said. “It seems Premier Sharif is afraid of the interior minister.”

Shah said Sharif was entangled in a slew of scandals, including the Nandipur Power Project and Panama Papers. “We don’t want to derail democracy, but will continue exposing the wrongdoings of the government.”

Bilawal’s four demands: PPP insiders claim government willing to talk

Some analysts believe Shah was earlier pursing the party’s agenda but now with the presence of Bilawal and Zardari in the house, the PPP wants to project itself as the ‘real opposition’.

“Shah was a puppet. Now, Zardari and his son will directly look after the party’s affairs in the National Assembly, and this all has been done under a deal. This is an open secret,” said Sindhi writer Dr Ali Ahmed Rind.

After becoming a lawmaker, Zardari will be able to negotiate with the government on the appointment of the next NAB chairman and other issues in which the consent of the opposition leader is mandatory under the 18th constitutional amendment.

The PPP insists this decision is not made all of sudden, but after long consultation.

“PPP’s Central Executive Committee and Federal Council had been taken into confidence over by-elections and Bilawal’s nomination for the slot of opposition leader,” PPP Federal Council member Lal Bux Bhutto told The Express Tribune. 

Zardari will return to Pakistan on Dec 23, announces Bilawal

“Like his mother, Bilawal has the potential but he lacks exposure in parliamentary politics. But there is no harm in it. Benazir Bhutto was also junior than others when she had taken over as prime minister in 1988,” he said.

The PPP has apparently backtracked from its earlier aggressive posture. However, Shah insists the party would turn up against the government’s policy at every forum before starting streets agitation.

“In the first phase, we will give a tough time to the government in parliament and in the second phase this movement can be turned into agitation,” he said.

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Written by Sarfaraz Memon

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