PDM to boycott presidential address to joint session

Opposition will hold three anti-govt rallies before announcing long march on Islamabad


Khalid Mahmood September 11, 2021
PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressing press conference in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) announced on Friday that the opposition lawmakers would boycott the joint session of parliament to mark the beginning of the new parliamentary year next week.

The executive committee of opposition alliance also decided to hold a series of public gatherings and rallies as prelude to its plans for a long march on the federal capital. The PDM also decided to publish a white paper on the government’s performance over the past three year.

The committee meeting, which lasted for over four hours, was chaired by alliance president Maulana Fazlur Rehman. It was attended by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Awais Noorani, Akram Durrani, Hafiz Hamdullah, Aftab Sherpao and Mahmood Achakzai.

Hamdullah, the alliance spokesperson, told the media after the meeting that the PDM rejected the election reforms and media development bills proposed by the government. he also announced the schedule for three anti-government rallies.

“The meeting chaired by Maulana Fazlur Rehman lasted for four and a half hours,” Hamdullah said. In the meeting, consultations were held on the next stage of the anti-government movement,” he added.

Announcing the publication on the government’s performance, he said incompetence and failures of the government would be exposed. “We will inform the public about the facts through this white paper,” he added.

Hamdullah said that a wide-ranging convention would be held in Islamabad on September 26 in which bar councils, media organisations, trade unions, organisations of labourers, farmers and government employees would be invited.

“We consider this government unconstitutional. Therefore, the convention will be called ‘The Convention for the Implementation of the Constitution, Economic Stability, Media and Judiciary Independence,” he said.

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“Next will be Mufti Mahmood Conference on October 14 and a gathering in Faisalabad on October 16. A PDM meeting will be held on October 31 in Dera Ismail Khan and after that the alliance will announce plans for the long march and road caravans to Islamabad,” Hamdullah said.

He said that the PDM would attend the joint sitting of parliament next week, but would boycott the speech of the president of Pakistan. “We will walk out of the meeting,” he said, referring to the presidential address, expected on Monday.

Responding to a question about the elections reforms, the PDM spokesperson said that the alliance rejected the bill regarding introduction of electronic voting machines (EVM). “It is a rigging plot, it is an action replay of July 25, 2018,” he said, referring to the date of last general elections.

He took strong exception to the remarks of Railways Minister Azam Swati and Prime Minister’s Adviser Babar Awan in a Senate committee meeting on the EVM issue. He accused the two senior government functionaries of insulting the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and parliament.

“The federal ministers even spoke of setting the Election Commission on fire, this is the attitude of the government,” he charged. “All the institutions of the country have come to know that they want to bring the institutions under their control through intimidation and slander.”

The spokesperson also rejected the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill because the “media representatives were not taken into confidence on this matter. “We call it martial law against the media,” Hamdullah said. “We will fully participate in the journalists’ protests against the bill.”

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