KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: Anti-government slogans in Lahore on Friday were countered by exhortations in favour of the government, particularly the president, in Karachi and Islamabad.
In a political rebuke to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) announced it would hold a “protest rally against the derogatory language used against President Asif Ali Zardari by the PML-N leaders” in Karachi on Sunday.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain gave a go-ahead to the decision taken by the party’s coordination committee, said a party’s press release.
Denouncing the use of “derogatory and abusive language” against the president by Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and other PML-N leaders at the rally in Lahore, Hussain said it “harms the integrity of the country.”
Expressing solidarity with President Zardari, the MQM chief said his party “would continue to support [the president] at every difficult time, and would not refrain from any sacrifice for the sake of democracy.”
The MQM also extended an invitation for the rally to Pakistan Peoples Party leaders and workers.
Awans come to rescue
Senior PPP leader Senator Babar Awan said his party leadership can neither be pressured by threats nor provoked by sloganeering of Sharifs and the “comedy show would lead to their downfall.”
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the former law minister said that PPP “cannot use such derogatory language against its political opponents.” Awan said it was “strange” that chief minister of “a minority government” in a province was demanding resignation from a president elected by over two-thirds majority by all federating units.
The former law minister was backed by information and broadcasting minister, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, who said that using non-parliamentary language against President Zardari “reflects the character of PML-N.”
“Holding a rally by using official resources is also the worst form of corruption,” she said, adding that the Punjab government has given “dengue and lawlessness to the people of the province during its four-year-rule.” The people who left the country after compromising with a dictator cannot launch a movement against the democratic government, she said.
PPP avoids ‘fight’ but lashes out at Sharifs
Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters at Karachi airport that the political rallies in Lahore are a “fight between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and PML-N.”
“Why is the Peoples Party being dragged into it?” he said, while also warning the PML-N against stopping PPP workers if they march in the Punjab.
Former law minister Babar Awan also criticised the Sharifs, accusing them of misappropriating Punjab’s resources. “It was a comedy show and government resources were used to organise it. They used police, health and all other departments to bring people to the rally,” he said. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.
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