PDM decides to march on Islamabad on March 23

Opposition alliance drops long march idea, adopts inflation march

Rizwan Shehzad   December 06, 2021
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE



The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has decided to hold an “inflation march” against the incumbent government instead of the slated “long march” three months from now.

Choosing March 23, 2022 as the day for the protest, PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman refrained himself from clarifying whether the inflation march would turn into a sit-in or remain merely a power show.

“Pakistan Democratic Movement has decided to go for Mehengai [inflation] March in Islamabad on March 23,” Fazl announced after a PDM meeting on Monday evening, hoping that the people from all corners of the country would come to participate in it.

To a question why the PDM chose March 23 for the protest as there would be a parade in Islamabad, Fazl said that the opposition alliance also belonged to the country and the issue of inflation was of national importance, adding that the country did not belonged to a single person rather to the nation and the PDM would march in the capital on Pakistan Day for the people.

Time and again, the PDM announced holding countrywide protests against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) but hasn’t yet been able to fully come out of its preparation mode and actually make a dent. Instead, it lost two of its allies – the PPP and the ANP – along the way a year after its formation and got itself labelled “as dead as a dodo”. He said that “movement means continuous struggle”, but avoided giving a final date for the decisive anti-government march and protest that has long been projected as final steps in dislodging the government.

Meanwhile, surprising as it may seem, Fazl confirmed that the PDM was taking part in the upcoming local bodies’ elections after rejecting in October the idea of holding LB polls under the incumbent government.

“Our demand is to hold general elections. Until transparent elections are held in the country and legitimate governments come into being, there is no justification of local bodies’ elections,” Fazl had said.

A journalist asked, “Will the PDM take part in the local bodies’ elections or boycott it?”
Fazl said, “We are taking part in it.”

On Monday evening, Fazl while sharing details of the decisions made in the meeting said that the PDM leadership had a consensus on resigning from the assemblies but the time to utilise this “card” will be chosen by the PDM.

To a question about resigning en mass from the assemblies and reaching out to the PPP and the ANP, Fazl said that such things do come under discussion and their pros and corns are also considered but not in the way they are presented on media.

Before the inflation march, Fazl disclosed that a seminar would be held after consultation with lawyers, businessmen and other communities, saying that he himself would meet the representatives of bar associations and then decide the date and time for the event.

Also read: PDM to decide fate of anti-govt campaign today

For the preparation of the inflation march, Fazl said that the PDM meetings would be called at provincial level, adding that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif would head the PDM meeting in Punjab; he would in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; Mehmood Khan Achakzai in Balochistan; and Owais Noorani in Karachi, Sindh.

After discussing the overall political situation of the country and alleging that the incumbent government came into existence through rigging in the 2018 elections, the PDM chief said that the whole nation was paying the price of the government’s incompetence in the shape of inflation, unemployment, poverty and lawlessness.

Also, he said, the PDM leadership condemned the lynching of a Sri Lankan citizen in Sialkot, saying that no citizen should ever take law into his hands and such incidents should not be encouraged from any angle.

Soon after Fazl’s media talk, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry predicted that the date of the long march would be changed this time also, saying that the head of the alliance had a habit of doing such things.

In a video message, the information minister said that the PDM and JUI-F chief only wanted to remain relevant and therefore, was making such moves.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed expressed his disappointment over the PDM leadership’s decision of a long march.

“On March 23, the armed forces of Pakistan conduct a traditional parade in which foreign ambassadors and delegates, as well as the people of the country participate,” he said, adding that the capital is placed on high alert due to the parade and some of the routes are also blocked two to three days before March 23.

“At such a time, the call for a march is not a positive step. It would be appropriate for the PDM to carry out the march in April,” he suggested.



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