The major opposition parties on Tuesday agreed to adopt a joint strategy inside and outside the parliament to give a ‘tough time’ to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on the matters of public as well as national interests. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sherry Rehman and Naveed Qamar attended the meeting which took place on the invitation of Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif. Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leaders Maulana Asadur Rehman and Maulana Abdul Wasay, Awami National Party’s Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Rana Sanaullah, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, and leaders of other opposition parties also attended the luncheon meeting held at Shehbaz Sharif’s chamber in the Parliament House. “We have decided to form a committee to devise a joint strategy on various issues,” PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif told media after the meeting. The committee will have representation from all the opposition parties and it will also be responsible for holding negotiations with the government on important national issues, including a second extension in the tenure of the military courts, he said. The leader of the opposition also criticised the ‘worst incompetence’ of the PTI government and once again termed as ‘cronyism’ the government’s move to award the Mohmand Dam contract to a consortium led by Descon, which he alleged was owned by a sitting adviser to the prime minister. The opposition leaders also agreed to take a hard stance on financial matters and raise the issue inside the parliament. “Inflation, unemployment and other important issues are getting out of hand and no foreign investors are ready to invest in the country,” Shehbaz said. Dishonourable terms such as ‘thief’ are used for the opposition leaders, he added. “The opposition parties are united now,” PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari said to a question by a journalist after the meeting. Bilawal Bhutto also seconded Zardari’s statement and added that the opposition leaders have agreed to form a joint committee. He said the opposition’s human and democratic rights were under attack from all sides by the government, adding that the opposition leaders were not ready to compromise on these two rights. “The opposition has decided on a very good strategy to form a committee and have a joint opposition inside the parliament as well as outside,” he said. As Zardari arrived at the Parliament House, he was asked to comment on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement that the NA walkout by the opposition was a ‘pressure tactic’ to seek an NRO. “Opposition has been staging a walkout since day one, why will we seek an NRO? The government is not in a position to give anything and we don’t need an NRO,” he responded. Earlier, Shehbaz Sharif welcomed Zardari to the meeting with a hug, as the two main opposition parties increasingly appeared to join hands to give the PTI-led government a tough time. An elaborate menu was on offer at the luncheon, including seafood, the traditional dishes of qourma and pulao, homemade vegetables and the dessert. A day earlier, on the opening day of the National Assembly’s new session, when Zardari entered the hall amidst desk-thumping by the opposition members, Shehbaz had walked to him and had a handshake. Published in Daily Times, January 16th 2019.