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Monday, September 7, 1998
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Opposition parties unite to oust Sharif

ISLAMABAD, Sept 6 (PTI) — Seven opposition parties, including Ms Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP), have formed a grand alliance which will oppose the proposed Islamisation Bill both inside and outside Pakistani Parliament.

The alliance, aimed at dislodging the Nawaz Sharif government amid growing resentment against the Bill, will oppose it both "outside and inside" Parliament, ANP leader Ajmal Khattak told reporters after a meeting of party leaders, including Ms Bhutto and ANP’s Khan Abdul Wali Khan, yesterday.

"It was unanimously resolved to launch a nationwide movement for seeking complete provincial autonomy and removing Nawaz Sharif to save the Constitution and the federation," he said.

The leaders identified the proposed 15th constitutional amendment for enforcing Islamic laws in the country as an immediate threat to the federation and Constitution, he said, adding, "it is a conspiracy to marginalise the Upper House Senate and distort the Constitution."

The alliance will also try to bring into its fold two major provincial parties — the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) — which have recently broken away from Mr Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), he said.

At the meeting, Ms Bhutto said, "the sitting together of all like-minded parties was an emergence of a new political situation".

"We all are friends and had worked unitedly till 1988. We were separated one by one. Now some new political realities have come to fore and we again have joined hands to save the country," she said.

She strongly advocated the need for "complete provincial autonomy" and urged that if the provinces were not united "it will create a vacuum which will be very dangerous for the federation".

"The country is faced with a grave political and economic situation and we have to save it from impending disaster", Ms Bhutto said.

Mr Wali Khan said the proposed amendment Bill was "a negation of the Constitution itself" and hence removal of Mr Sharif was a must to protect the Constitution.

"Even the military dictators had not distorted the Constitution the way this government is bent upon doing," he said , adding that this amounted to sabotage of its spirit.

Mr Khattak said, "there was complete consensus among all parties who had agreed to work through a collective leadership without giving the leadership to any one person".

"It is a new political contract to work jointly with consensus and under collective leadership. This working relationship is not to bring a particular person in power by dislodging another", he said.


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