PDM announces march on Islamabad to topple govt

Opposition leaders say will go to capital with a sea of people


Our Correspondent August 29, 2021
Shehbaz Sharif arriving to address Karachi rally. PHOTO: PML-N SOCIAL MEDIA

KARACHI:

Leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an alliance of opposition parties – have announced marching towards Islamabad “with a sea of people” to topple the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

“It’s a crime to remain quiet in the current situation. Stand up people to bring a revolution,” they said while addressing a big PDM rally at Karachi’s Bagh-e-Jinnah on Sunday.

Taking the stage, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif Shehbaz accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of making false promises with the people of Sindh and Karachi.

“In 2019, [PM] Imran [Khan] Niazi announced Rs162 billion for Sindh and Karachi and then in 2020 he announced a developmental package worth Rs1,100 billion for the province.”

Shehbaz said except a few pennies, PM Imran did not fulfil his promise of providing funds to the province.

He credited his elder brother and former premier Nawaz Sharif for stabilising the country’s economy and restoring law and order in the port city.

“Nawaz Sharif in collaboration with the provincial government eliminated the menace of extortion and sack-packed bodies from Karachi,” he added.

“When Nawaz Sharif became prime minister [in 2013] the economy was on the verge of collapse but he initiated CPEC and installed power projects and added 11,000 MW to the national grid.”

Shehbaz said prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed due to the “flawed policies” of the incumbent government.

“Imran Khan while sitting in the sprawling palace of Bani Gala talks about making Pakistan a Madina-like state.”

Shehbaz said PM Imran is unaware of the issues being faced by the masses, pledging that if the PDM is elected to power it will get rid of inflation, unemployment and other prevailing issues.

Meanwhile, addressing the rally from London via video link, Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan is on the verge of “destruction” because of the conspiracies hatched against democracy by a few individuals.

The former premier said that if he was not ousted from power through “conspiracies”, the situation of the country would have been much better today.

“Elected prime minister was removed from power through ‘Panama episode’ and Imran Khan was installed in power through rigged elections,” he added.

Nawaz blamed the undemocratic forces for the country’s downfall, saying a handful of people have occupied the resources of the country while the masses were suffering due to inflation and unemployment.

He added that a few individuals have sabotaged the country's democratic system by stealing the people’s mandate.

PDM President and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman urged his supporters to stand up to bring revolution in the country, calling the incumbent government "illegitimate" which came to power through the "backdoor".

“Fake rulers have destroyed the country’s economy and foreign policy during their three years in power,” Fazl said.

While calling the PTI government selected, Fazl said: “Everyone should abide by their oath and not violate their constitutional boundaries.”

Fazl said that the PDM parties are determined to restore true democracy and supremacy of parliament in the country.

He said the incumbent government was lying about economic statistics and the current GDP growth rate had entered a negative territory. “We will fulfil our promises that we made to the people ... keep your spirits high and don’t be afraid,” he remarked.

Fazl said that the country’s economy can never prosper with weak foreign policy, adding that the PDM wanted cordial ties with all countries including India.

Commenting on the Afghan situation, the JUI-F chief urged the United States to accept its defeat in the war-torn country.

He appreciated the Afghan Taliban's statements regarding announcing amnesty for all and making an inclusive government. “Taliban have forgiven all and invited all segments of society to be part of the government... Afghan people should accept them [Taliban],” the JUI-F chief said.

The PDM, which had lost its political steam after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) parted ways with it earlier this year, have decided to organise another round of countrywide jalsas to topple the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

The top leadership of the PDM, including Fazl, Shehbaz, and National Party President Dr Abdul Malik addressed the participants. Shah Owais Noorani, Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini and Sajid Mir were also among the speakers.

Read more PPP welcomes PDM in Karachi: Bilawal

Security measures

Along with the local administration, a 10,000-strong squad of JUI-F volunteers performed security duties inside the park. The organisers had also installed walkthrough gates at all entrances of the venue.

A JUI-F spokesperson said special arrangements were made for parking and security around the venue in collaboration with the district administration and separate routes were announced for the arrival of political caravans to the venue.

Moreover, various committees were established to take care of internal security, traffic control, coronavirus SOPs and other issues at the venue. A temporary canteen for food and drinks was also set up to facilitate the political workers attending the gathering.

Will women participate?

The PDM came under fire yesterday after one of its office bearers said the Karachi rally will not include women political workers of the opposition parties. JUI-F Sindh General Secretary Rashid Soomro said the decision had been made with the consensus of all member parties of the PDM.

The JUI-F provincial leader’s remarks drew flak from various political leaders.

Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari also tweeted against it, saying: “PDM banning women from attending jalsas is pathetic.”

PPP's Sherry Rehman also tweeted asking if barring women from the venue was a PDM policy?

Read PDM renews anti-govt drive with rally in Swat

However, PDM leaders were quick to clarify, saying the jalsa was inclusive. JUI-F chief Fazl responded to the criticism, saying women will participate in the PDM rally and be provided with protection.

National Party MPA Sanaullah Baloch also tweeted, saying all citizens were allowed in the rally irrespective of "sex, race, religion, caste and regional affiliations".

 

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