LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have vowed joint struggle to protect the nation from the ‘fascist regime’.

Both the parties also decided to form a joint opposition coordination committee, which will meet in the ongoing week, while the all parties conference (APC) will take place soon after Eidul Azha.

The decisions were taken in a meeting between a PML-N delegation, led by party Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, and PPP leadership on Monday. The N-League delegation called on PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the Bilawal House. The visitors included Ahsan Iqbal and MNAs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Khwaja Saad Rafique.

PPP senior leaders including former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, President Central Punjab Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad, PPP parliamentary leader in Punjab Assembly Syed Hassan Murtaza. Later, addressing a joint press conference, Kaira and Ahsan said the nation wanted the government to go at the earliest.

Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the opposition leader in National Assembly Mian Shahbaz Sharif had telephoned the PPP chairman a day before the current meeting after which ‘friends’ from the PML-N visited the Bilawal House.

He said the situation demanded a joint and effective strategy. He told the media that the meeting decided to constitute the joint opposition coordination committee, in which Khwaja Asif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah and Khwaja Saad Rafique would represent the PML-N, while Nayyar Hussein Bokhari, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Farhatullah Babar would represent the PPP. He also said that names from other parties were also coming in. To a question, he said the APC would be held after Eid.

Kaira, grilling the government over its cruel steps, said the PPP had braved hardships and struggled against martial law regimes. He said the opposition had to come up to expectations of the nation and it was also obvious that the government was in a hurry to go. He said former opposition leader in NA Syed Khursheed Shah had been the custody of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the last 10 months, but trial of his case had not started.

Similarly, he said, opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz Sharif had been in the custody, adding that NAB had failed to establish itself as an impartial body. PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, while speaking on the occasion, told the media that a detailed meeting had taken place with the PPP chairperson and stated that the country had been pushed to severe economic challenges by the incumbent government. He said that freedom of expression was also being suppressed. To a question, the PML-N leader said Maryam Nawaz Sharif would also play her role and would go for mass contact campaign.

News desk adds: The PPP and the PML-N announced on Monday the opposition had agreed to call an APC after Eidul Azha to devise a joint strategy against the government.

The two parties announced formation of the joint action committee which will have representation of other political parties, besides the two main opposition parties. From the Awami National Party (ANP), Mian Iftikhar and Ameer Haider Khan Hoti will be part of the committee, while Senator Mir Kabeer Shahi from the National Party will also be part of it.

Kaira said committee’s main focus would be to determine a way to rid the nation of the government. “A very serious and sensitive legislation is about to take place,” he said. “Opposition parties have coordination previously but we need to do more,” he added, saying that ‘comprehensive legislation’ was needed via a joint plan by both parties.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Ahsan Iqbal said the PPP and the PML-N were in agreement that the current government was to blame for the economic crisis that Pakistan was going through.

“No state in the 21st century can continue to exist with such a floundered economy,” he said, adding that improving the people’s standard of living was out of the question as the government was making life extremely hard for the masses.

“The one who had a car, is now [left with] a motorbike. The one who had a motorbike is now on foot. People cannot afford education for their children. The labourers, farmers and graduates with degrees are worried,” he added.

He said that Pakistan was facing internal and external threats due to the incumbent government. “Getting rid of the government is in line with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan,” he said.

Iqbal said that the government was trying to impose a law, by using the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) conditions as an excuse to enact a law that was “not the NAB’s father but its grandfather” [far harsher than the NAB law].

He said the government was bringing a law according to which authorities could have any person arrested for 90 days without bail. “After [the 90 days], the remand can be extended for another 90 days without bail. And the order will be issued by the secretary interior and the Punjab home secretary,” he added.

He said any media worker, politician, political workers, trader or businessman could be sent to prison by the government on a bogus chit, prepared by prosecutors, that accuses an individual of the transfer of money through Hawala/Hundi. “We cannot allow the government to impose ‘black laws’ on Pakistan under the garb of FATF due to which individual freedom of expression is suppressed,” he said.

Kaira said both parties were in agreement that the incumbent government was the ‘problem’ and that they must work to rid the nation of it. “I have already said that this government is the problem,” he said. “Both parties agree that the country must be rid of this government, “he said.