Chief of the Opposition's Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Maulana Fazlur Rehman, on Tuesday announced that the anti-inflation long march will go ahead on March 23, as planned, despite the government's attempts to dissuade the alliance from holding it on the date, as it coincides with the annual Pakistan Day parade.
In addition, a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will be held in the capital a day earlier, on March 22, due to which a curfew will be imposed.
Fazl seemed unperturbed by either, telling the media: "PDM will enter Islamabad, and they knew such a big march is due that day. Under which conspiracy did they make such recommendations?"
"As far as the parade is concerned, it takes place from morning to afternoon and we have to come in the afternoon, so there is no conflict."
A multi-party session, under the chairmanship of the PDM chief, was held prior to the press conference, to deliberate the strategy for the long march against rising inflation and unemployment in the country.
Sources told Geo News the meeting was also convened to discuss an in-house change and recommendations of the PDM steering committee in that regard. The sources further said that the foreign funding case against the PTI will be reviewed as well as the Transparency International report which was released earlier today.
PML-N leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Marriyum Aurangzeb were present in the meeting while PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and vice-president Maryam Nawaz joined the session through video link.
Fazlur Rehman, during the media briefing, said that the PDM "rejects the mini-budget" and demands that it be "taken back", in reference to the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021, passed by the National Assembly on January 13.
"The way they themselves are toys, they have turned the country's economy into a plaything, and every other day continue to make a mockery of the people's rights," he said.
He said the State Bank of Pakistan, with the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill also passed in Parliament, has been "enslaved" for the benefit of international institutions and that this is "eradicating Pakistan's sovereignty".
"Instead of being an independent state, we are increasingly turning into a colony," Fazl added.
"We value our freedom and under no circumstance can we allow any leader to pawn off our freedom," he continued.
He said that chants of "corruption" and "thief" were regularly raised against the Opposition, "and now, we see that Transparency International has shown them the mirror, exposing their artificial honesty".
The PDM chief noted that Pakistan has fallen from 117 to 140 in the corruption ranking of countries.
"If they had any shame, they would drown themselves," Fazl said, in his usual dramatic tone.
He said that the PTI has "proved to be the biggest failure, the most incompetent and the most corrupt [party]" and "despite all this, it is hatching a new plan for rigging in the next elections with the use of machines (electronic voting machines)".
"But the people are aware and they will be crushed like flies and thrown out of power," Fazl said.
He said the PDM rejects the use of the use of the electronic voting machine (EVM), terming it "unconstitutional" and calling it a "failed experiment" worldwide, which is being "forced" upon the nation.
"We will not accept such an election. This is another name for RTS (results transmission system)."
The PDM chief said that PM Imran Khan has been "declared guilty" in the foreign funding case against PTI. "He has hidden around 22 accounts," Fazl said.
Laying out the PDM's demands of the Election Commission of Pakistan, he said that "the case must be heard on a daily basis, Imran Khan be declared disqualified, and his party banned".
"The entire party is corrupt, has been borne out of corruption and illegal resources have gone into creating it," he said.
Speaking of rumours that the government plans to impose a presidential system, he said that such a system has "always been another name for dictatorship".
He said the installation of such a system is "an attempt to do away with the fundamental structure of the Constitution".
Fazl said that such "unholy desires" will never be allowed to come to pass and that the Opposition will "continue its fight to safeguard the Constitution".
He also announced the PDM's support for a number of issues such as the farmers' woes regarding the unavailability of fertiliser, Balochistan's rights when it comes to the Reko Diq case and its mineral resources, Sindh's rights over the Bundal and Bundoo islands, and the rights of the people of the merged districts.
In addition, he spoke of the Murree tragedy which saw the deaths of at least 22 people, who died in their vehicles amid unprecedented snowfall, saying that action was taken against "smaller players". He said Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar and PM Imran Khan "should instead have resigned".
Speaking of the viability of a no-trust bid against the government, he said it would require "unity among all parties".
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