Leaders of the opposition parties geared up for a decisive battle against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government, setting on Thursday the date of their long march on Islamabad and vowing not to allow the proceedings in both the houses of parliament.
Speaking after the marathon summit meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the president of the 11-party opposition alliance, said that the long march to overthrow the government would be held on March 26.
He also said that the parties agreed to contest the upcoming Senate election from a single platform, adding that they also rejected the constitutional amendment for open balloting in the Senate election and the Justice (retd) Azmat Saeed-led Broadsheet inquiry commission.
The meeting, which lasted for 8 hours, was chaired by Fazl and attended by Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sajid Mir, Aftab Sherpao, Mian Iftikhar, Anas Noorani, Malik Baloch, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Qamar Zaman Kaira and others. Former president Asif Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif attended via video link.
In December, last year, the PDM had set a deadline of January 31 for the government to resign. The alliance had also asked the parties to collect resignations of their respective lawmakers by December 31. The alliance had warned of a long march to overthrow the PTI government.
At the news conference, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz accompanied Fazl, who announced the decisions taken unanimously.
“Rallies from all over the country will march towards Islamabad on March 26,” Fazl told the news conference. The PDM chief, however, did not give a direct answer to the question about the duration of the march. “Wait for it to know how long the [protest] will last,” he said.
He said the PDM had decided to jointly contest the Senate elections. The PDM president did not comment on the proposal for en masse resignations from the legislatures to force the government to call fresh elections. He rejected the Broadsheet commission and the bill for open Senate elections.
Fazl also announced the opposition’s full participation in the protest of the government employees. The PDM president said that the opposition would not allow the proceedings of the National Assembly and the Senate.
Sources, meanwhile, said that the meeting also discussed the proposal of bringing a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, as well as the suggestions for resigning from the assemblies. At the insistence of the PPP, both proposals were put off until after the long march, the sources added.
Talking to the media, Maryam Nawaz said that Fazl did not give any statement regarding the establishment. She added that incompetent people like Imran Khan played with the lives of 220 million people. “We will oppose anyone who participates in the undemocratic process,” she added.
About the long march, the PML-N leader said that on March 26, caravans from all over the country would leave for the long march. “This time we will hold a sit-in together,” she said. She termed the local government election a hoax to sabotage the long march.
About the proposal of tabling a no-confidence motion, she said, the matter was being discussed. “Each party has its own position, the no-confidence motion is being discussed,” she said. “It’s an ongoing process that involves questions and answers.”
When asked about the no-confidence motion against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Maryam said: “Why should Usman Bazdar be removed? As long as he is in the office, the people will see the difference between the PML-N government and a fake government.”
Replying to another question, she expressed the hope that PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif would be “among us soon”, adding that at present he was under the weather.
PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said that the options of tabling a no-confidence motion and stepping down from assemblies would be decided after the Senate elections. “For now, we have taken the decisions with consensus.”
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