Anti-govt movement to kick off with Quetta rally on Oct 11

Opposition alliance slams Shehbaz’s arrest; forms steering body headed by Ahsan Iqbal


Our Correspondent September 29, 2020
Opposition politicians addressing a news conference in Islamabad. PHOTO: AGENCIES

ISLAMABAD:

Opposition parties will stage their first rally under the banner of their newly formed alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), on October 11 in Quetta as part of their strategy to send the PTI-led government packing.

The joint front comprising almost all opposition parties held its first meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday.

It condemned the arrest of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and formed a steering committee to carry forward its anti-government drive. PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal has been appointed the convener of the body and it includes two members from each party.

The participants of the meeting also decided to send names to the leadership of their parties for the organisational structure of the PDM.

Addressing a news conference after the meeting, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said after Quetta, the PDM would stage rallies in the other three provincial capitals and in smaller cities as well.

“Space is shrinking for democracy in Pakistan. Inflation is on the rise, the economy is in tatters, there’s unemployment and corruption has hit a new peak,” the former premier said, accompanied by other opposition leaders.

“The PDM will bring a real political change in the country,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf said the emergency meeting of the PDM was summoned in view of the prevailing crisis in the country including the arrest of Shehbaz, who is also the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly.

Speaking about the steering committee, the PPP leader said the body would be headed on a rotational basis.

Ashraf, who is also a former prime minister, maintained that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was not an independent body.

“The arrest of opposition leaders would weaken democracy in the country and give rise to public anger,” he added.

“The arrest of Shehbaz Sharif is regrettable and worrying.”

Ashraf said the arrest of the PML-N president, despite filing a reference against him, was yet another proof of the “government-NAB nexus”.

“Ministers had already predicted on TV that opposition leaders would be arrested,” he noted.

JUI-F Central General Secretary Maulana Ghafoor Haideri said the PTI-led government had lost its credibility in the eyes of the public and failed to keep its pre-election promise of providing five million low-cost houses and millions of jobs to the people.

He also condemned the arrest of Shehbaz and vowed that the anti-government movement would continue until it was dislodged.

At an all parties conference on September 20, the opposition parties upped the ante against the PTI-led federal government as they demanded immediate resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and announced the formation of the PDM to begin a countrywide protest campaign.

During the PPP-hosted confab, the opposition also ratcheted up its narrative against alleged rigging in the July 2018 general election and demanded that the powerful establishment should not only refrain itself from interfering in politics but also confine to its role as defined in the Constitution.

Through a 26-point resolution and a seven-point action plan issued after the APC, the opposition put forward its demands, including free, fair, transparent elections without having any role of the armed forces and agencies.

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