The government’s decision to hold early Senate elections has put Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in a catch-22 situation. After threatening mass resignations for months during fiery opposition rallies, it seems Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is having second thoughts about resigning from National and Provincial assemblies.

On Tuesday, media quoted Bilawal Bhutto Zardari saying: “We will decide the timing of the resignation, not the government.”

These remarks came during a meeting of PPP’s Central Executive Committee at Bilawal House – which was presided over by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and former President Asif Ali Zardari. During the meeting consensus emerged that the party would contest both the Senate elections and by-elections.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and other federal ministers had taken to the media in the past few week, taunting PDM to submit resignations. They claimed that MNAs and MPAs will not resign on PDM’s call. The Prime Minister was quoted in sections of media saying that the NA Speaker should accept resignations immediately.

Soon after PDM leadership announced en mass resignations, the government announced that they would hold Senate election before time. This has made PPP uneasy, which believes strongly in parliamentary politics.

Making the decision to tender resignations contingent on the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s leader’s return, Bilawal said PPP is ready for a long march; however, Nawaz Sharif should return to the country and also take part in the long march.  

Casting further doubts on the party’s willingness to hand in resignations the executive committee said premature resignations from the Parliament will allow the government to pass laws against the 18th Amendment as well as other laws against democracy.

“Legal experts have said the resignations will not cause any hindrance in the Senate elections, the procedure after giving resignations is also not clear,” the PPP Chairman said

Party leaders also expressed their displeasure over Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman absence from Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary. They said the President of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) had abandoned Benazir over local politics, and now he expects PPP to abandon elected assemblies on his direction.

In a video message following the meeting Asif Ali Zardari said PML-N and JUI-F should not dictate what PPP should do. “We are ready for protest politics but will not accept dictation from anyone.”

Government ministers took the opportunity to claim PDM’s politics is finished, as cracks within their ranks were visible for all to see.           

The author is the Editor of The Correspondent.

He can be reached at sarmadiqbal@thecorrespondent.com.pk

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