Opposition launches protest with massive rallies

Warns govt against using coercive tactics to suppress dissent

Syed Ali Shah April 13, 2024


Mahmood Khan Achakzai, head of the newly formed alliance of opposition parties Tehreek Tahafuz-e-Aain (TTA), has urged the government not to use coercive tactics against any political party, including the PTI, warning that otherwise, the opposition will launch a massive movement.

“Police are dishonoring our youth, women, and elders in Sindh, Punjab, K-P, and Balochistan. I want to remind them that they are the police of this country. I urge them to stop this behavior,” Achakzai said while addressing a massive public rally in Pishin district of Balochistan.

Achakzai, of PkMAP, was chosen a day earlier to lead the six-party alliance also including the PTI, the SIC, the BNP-M, the JI, and the MWM.

This alliance kicked off its protest movement against alleged rigging in the February 8 general elections from Balochistan by staging two separate public gatherings in Pishin and Chaman on Saturday.

Achakzai said that only a foreign occupation force humiliates the people of an occupied territory, adding that “it is justified for people facing oppression to rise against an oppressor”.

He said police may arrest our children, women, and elders but they do not have the right to disgrace them. “People must be treated with dignity no matter what,” he added.

He said all over the world the state inculcates the spirit of freedom in its youth, but in Pakistan, an attempt is being made to stifle it.

He asked the government servants to mend their ways, warning that if they continued to oppress the people, it might one day become impossible for them to come out in public in their official uniforms.
Criticizing the political system, Achakzai said in this country turncoats were reaching the National Assembly and the Senate through fake elections. He also opposed the idea of giving extensions to civil and military officials after their retirement, describing it as one of the evils plaguing the country.

He said he and all other opposition parties respect the army and are ready to salute armed forces as long as they abide by their oath and do not interfere in politics.

The PkMAP chief warned that foreign powers wanted to destabilize the entire region from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to India. He urged the need to establish peace and harmony among the neighboring countries based on the principle of “live and let live”.

PTI’s Omar Ayub emphasized the need for transparency and accountability, particularly in light of the recent incidents involving “violence” against PTI activists. He called for solidarity among opposition parties and announced plans for nationwide rallies to mobilize support for their cause.

Sher Afzal Marwat of the PTI reiterated his party's commitment to raising awareness among the people about the authorities “injustices” against his fellows, stressing the need for judicial reform and protection of civil liberties.

Read SIC announces forming ‘grand alliance’

Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the chief of the BNP-M, criticized the alleged rigging of the elections and called for an end to “meddling” in affairs of democratic institutions. He said the people of Balochistan had always stood by the Constitution and the rule of law in the country.

"Our struggle for the supremacy of the Constitution will continue,” Mengal announced.

The leaders addressing the rally also voiced their concerns and demands through a series of resolutions—addressing pressing issues confronting the country including the nation's governance, judiciary, media freedom, and human rights.

They fervently condemned the erosion of judicial independence and the intimidation of judges. They emphasized the need for a robust and impartial judiciary to uphold the rule of law.

Furthermore, they also demanded the preservation of freedom of the press, stressing the importance of maintaining a vibrant and independent media landscape essential for a functioning democracy.

Addressing human rights issues, they called for the release of political activists, including those affiliated with the PTI, and the termination of cases against them. Additionally, they condemned the enforced disappearances of political figures and demanded their immediate release.

Meanwhile, the opposition leaders urged for comprehensive reforms in foreign and economic policies, an end to corruption, as well as focusing on national development. Following the presentation of the resolutions, prominent political figures took to the stage to address the gathering.

They also expressed solidarity with the demands of those staging the Chaman sit-in, highlighting the need for the government to address the grievances of the protesters. The alliance also organized a public gathering at the site of the Chaman sit-in to mount pressure on the government to accept the protesters’ demands.


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