The leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) -- an alliance of opposition parties – on Saturday announced that it would expand its rallies and protests across the country as a decisive move to overthrow the PTI government.
During a PDM meeting held in Karachi, a day before its “grand” show in the provincial capital, JUI-F chief and alliance’s president Maulana Fazlur Rehman again pressed for opposition lawmakers to resign en masse from the assemblies and launching an anti-government long march.
Later while speaking to reporters accompanied by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Fazl said the PDM would announce the “final” round of its campaign in the early days of September and issue a white paper on the performance of the PTI government.
“The PDM will lay down a web of rallies in the country and also launch a road caravan so that citizens can protest for their rights,” he added.
The JUI-F chief said the alliance had rejected the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PDMA), describing it as an attempt by the government to curtail the freedom of press. “We stand in solidarity with the journalist community.” he added.
Falz further said the PDM had also rejected the government’s “illegal and unconstitutional” electoral reforms.
He added that the government was claiming to conduct transparent elections with the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), which had been rejected by the “entire world”.
“The Election Commission [of Pakistan] has also expressed its reservations [over EVMs], he maintained.
He claimed that the electoral reforms were a “conspiracy against democracy” and an “attempt to steal the elections”.
Speaking on the PPP, the Maulana said the party had tried to “stab the PDM in the back”, putting to rest speculations that it might join the alliance again.
“But it’s not the PPP we are targeting. Our focus is on ridding the country of this [PTI] government. The PPP issue is a thing of the past,” he added, requesting reporters to not bring up the matter anymore.
However, he added that the PDM would also raise issues being faced by Sindh during the rally on Sunday.
The JUI-F chief also clarified in response to query that women would participate in the PDM rally and provided with protection.
Earlier, JUI-F Sindh General Secretary Rashid Soomro had told reporters that women would not take part in the rally on Sunday, a decision that had been made with the consensus of all constituent parties of the alliance.
The JUI-F provincial leader’s remarks drew flak from other political leaders, particularly PPP’s Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, who tweeted that the “PDM banning women from attending jalsas is pathetic”.
Commenting on the PDM meeting held earlier, Fazl said the participants had expressed concerns over the “unemployment and inflation” in Pakistan.
They also voiced their concerns over the “growing instability” in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Shehbaz said the PDM, under the leadership of the JUI-F chief, had decided not to remain confined to rallies and take practical steps.
To a query, he ruled out rifts within his party.
The participants of the PDM meeting included Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Sajid Mir, Owais Noorani, Aftab Sherpao and Mohammad Zubair.
PML-N supremo and former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz participated through video link from London and Lahore, respectively.
Nawaz while addressing the participants said the country had become isolated in the world because of the PTI government’s policies.
He suggested expanding the rallies of the alliance to 31 districts.
“The PDM will have to expand its movement,” he added.
“State institutions should not be used for political motives.”
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