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ISLAMABAD: The all parties conference (APC) of the opposition on Sunday announced forming the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to launch an anti-government drive in the country from October.
It demanded immediate resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, and warned of launching of an anti-government movement in 10 days, from October, if the demand was not fulfilled. The movement would consist of a series of protests and rallies, culminating in a long march in January 2021 against the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.
“In the first phase, joint public rallies would be held in the provincial capitals and other cities in October, while in the second phase, big rallies would be brought out in the provincial capitals and other cities in December, and the decisive long march on Islamabad would be held in January 2021,” said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while addressing a press conference after the APC.
He was accompanied by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif, and other leaders, who earlier attended the APC.
The Maulana, while reading out the action plan, finalised at the APC, said it was decided that all political and parliamentary options would be adopted, including the options of a no-confidence motion and joint resignations from the parliament.
Responding to questions during the press conference, PPP Chairman Bilawal said “we are used to facing undemocratic forces with a democratic force”. To another question regarding the absence of 356 parliamentarians from the joint sitting of the parliament, due to which the opposition faced a parliamentary defeat, Bilawal said the votes fell short as some members could not come to parliament due to some reasons. “This was not an issue; the real issue is rigging that took place on that day, and even those who were not members of any house were counted.”
In reply to another question, he said the new alliance would not be like the IJI [Islami Jamhoori Ittehad] but the MRD [Movement for Restoration of Democracy]. “We did not want to repeat the past mistakes,” he said.
To another question, he said Imran Khan had given the formula of minus himself. In reply to another question, Bilawal said protest, no-confidence and resignations were all democratic ways.
He said the proposed PDM was an important step towards a democratic Pakistan. He said the proposed PDM would start functioning from Monday. Opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said the incumbent government's survival was a threat to Pakistan's existence". He said that there was sham democracy in the country in the presence of the incumbent government.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman read out the 26-point joint resolution of the APC. He said the APC called for fresh polls in the country with the arrangements for free and transparent elections.
He said the meeting declared that the "incumbent selected government has been granted artificial stability and it has been imposed on people through rigged elections.” He said the conference called for electoral reforms, under which no undemocratic forces could interfere in electoral process.
He said the ‘selected government’ had ruined the common man's life with record high inflation, unemployment, and taxes and demand that the prices of flour, sugar, ghee, electricity and gas be immediately brought down.
He said due to the "selected" government's failed policies, the crumbling economy is posing a serious danger to the country's atomic power and sovereignty. He said the Constitution of 1973, the 18th Amendment and the current National Finance Commission (NFC) award are a reflection of the nation's united viewpoint and we will fight to guard these against any attack and protect our provincial autonomy and no compromise would be made on it.
He said the opposition rejected the "nefarious intentions" of introducing a presidential system in the country as the federal parliamentary democracy was a requisite for Pakistan. The meeting of the opposition announced that there would be no compromise on the supremacy of the parliament.
He alleged that the “selected government was responsible for the fall of Kashmir that India's move to annex Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir was made with the incumbent government's support".
He said the APC expressed grave concerns over the "complete failure" of the government's policy regarding Afghanistan. The meeting also condemned filing of fake, fabricated and vindictive cases against political workers and leaders and their arrest. The meeting paid tribute Syed Khursheed Shah, Hamza Shahbaz and other political workers for facing victimisation.
According to the declaration, the meeting stated that the National Action Plan was not being implemented, which was resulting in "a surge in terrorism". The forum also expressed grave concerns over the dismal law and order situation, saying that the government had "failed miserably" to ensure the basic rights of citizens.
The resolution expressed concerns over rise of sectarian tension while terming it a dangerous development. It expressed concerns on the government criminal silence on it and demanded implementation of the National Action Plan.
The APC resolution termed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) important for the country, adding that the "inexperienced government" had put CPEC in danger. The opposition demanded that CPEC projects be expedited and the Motorway and railways on the western route be developed on an emergency basis, he added.
The resolution stated that the selected government had paralysed the parliament and the voice of the opposition was being suppressed and the opposition would not cooperate with the rubber-stamp parliament anymore.
It also demanded withdrawal of illegal and unconstitutional legislation related to restrictions on freedom of citizens, medical commission bill and other legislation that was passed by bulldozing the rules.
The APC demanded fair, impartial and transparent elections in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) on schedule without any interference while necessary steps should also be taken following polls to include GB in the national mainstream.
The APC observed that GB was a sensitive territory, and there should not be involvement of any quarters in elections there, so that nobody could point fingers at transparency of elections.
“The conference also decided that the opposition parties would keep a keep an eye on elections in GB,” the declaration said.
The declaration also pointed that tribal areas should not be made no-go areas while condemning the establishment of private jails there. “As per decision of the Peshawar High Court, these private jails should be handed over to the police,” the APC said.
The APC also expressed concerns over the use of tactics to pressurise impartial judges through framing of baseless references and cases to announce decision against Constitution, law and norms of justice. The APC observed that such tactics were against concept of impartial and independent judiciary.
The APC supported Sept 17 declaration of Pakistan Bar Council’s APC, which demanded change in existing process of appointment of judges to the superior courts.
The APC also demanded new accountability law in the light of the Supreme Court decision, recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and report of the Human Rights Watch. “There should be uniform accountability law for people belonging to all institutions including judiciary, defence service, bureaucracy and Parliament.”
The APC also demanded putting an end to turning Pakistani citizens into missing persons and those already missing should be produced before the courts.
The meeting condemned the dissolution of local bodies in Punjab before time and demanded their immediate restoration. The meeting also rejected the non-political elections of the local government.
The meeting condemned the cut in budget of higher education and demanded restoration of financial assistance of country’s universities and withdrawal of increase in fees. The meeting reiterated the support to Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan and demanded its implementation.
The meeting demanded for respect of civil rule in Balochistan and demanded restoration of civil authority instead of FC and removal of hurdles of the FC in every district of Balochistan. The meeting demanded formation of Truth and Reconciliation commission that should document the real history of Pakistan from 1947.
The meeting decided to review the Charter of Democracy and decided to form a committee to examine the Pakistan problems and to formulate a strategy that give directions to make the country an Islamic, welfare and democratic state in the light of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s views.
Earlier, addressing the APC via video link from London, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said it was a crime to commit dacoity on the rights of masses. He said for solid defence and national security, it was important for the armed forces that they should respect the Constitution and the sayings of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
He said could he ask as to why the RTS [results transmission system] of the Election Commission was shut during compiling of the results of 2018 elections. “Who is responsible for all that? The then chief election commissioner and secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and others will have to be held answerable,” he added.
He said the incumbent incompetent government destroyed the country’s economy in the last two years; the GDP growth rate had gone below zero and it has become difficult for the poor to earn their living. “The government has taken U-turn on every issue and instead of fulfilling promise of giving 10 million jobs, it has rendered 12 million people jobless,” he said.
Nawaz said when would be the right anti-govt movement time if was not launched now. Today CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] is in confusion while foreign investment has come to an end, he claimed.
He said that the elected representatives should decide the country’s foreign policy in the light of the public opinion. He said the APC would be highly successful if the opposition was able to brave off the divide-and-rule policy of the government, saying that he agreed with Maulana Fazlur Rehman that bold decision should be taken and the APC should be objective-oriented.
He said the APC would have to play key role for supremacy of Constitution and giving respect to vote. “This conference should also move towards a new charter of democracy while the APC should also take steps to bring the Hamudur Rehman report before people,” he said.
He regretted that India noted that there was a puppet government in Pakistan and it annexed Kashmir; but the Pakistani rulers could not even register their protest and instead lost support of friendly countries.
He questioned as to why the country was facing isolation in the comity of nations and as to why the foreign minister gave such a statement which shattered confidence of friendly countries in Pakistan.
He said the time has come that all such questions should be answered. Nawaz said the former prime ministers sitting at the APC very well knew that how noose was tightened around the elected governments and such acts were committed which were not in knowledge of governments. “Then the country has to face consequences for such acts,” he said.
He said that the country where the vote was not given respect, becomes economically paralyzed, and then the country was rendered unable to defend itself. “Pakistan is also facing lawlessness and tragic incidents like Motorway rape tragedy,” he said.
Nawaz regretted that mega a project, which was signed with friendly country like China, is facing BRT-Peshawar like treatment. He admitted that to continue a black law like the NAB law was a fault of his government.
He said the NAB chairman was caught red-handed while misusing his powers, but there had been no inquiry against him and rather he had been following his agenda of victimization. “This institution lost any logic of its existence and opponents along with their families are being dragged by NAB,” he said if anybody escapes NAB, he is dragged in by the FIA and anti-narcotics cases are registered against him.
He also questioned as to why NAB could not come into action against sugar mafia and Aleema Khan, sister of Imran Khan, and in foreign funding case and money trail for purchase of Bani Gala land. “For how long, we will wait answers for these questions,” he said pointing out that Imran Khan paid only few hundred rupees tax despite having Bani Gala property.
He said the 2018 general elections were rigged and poll results were changed in many constitutions to pave the way for the present government. “I was in jail, but I was told that the incumbent government could have not been established if the election results had not been changed in those constituencies,” he claimed.
The root-cause of problems being faced by the country was that the country had been deprived of true democracy while the Constitution also says that the opinion of people should be respected which is spirit of democracy.
“This is principle of democracy in the world when the democracy is hit, the whole democratic system becomes meaningless,” he said. He regretted that Pakistan has been made a laboratory for experiments in which the public mandate was stolen.
Nawaz said every Pakistani knows that none of elected prime minister was allowed to complete five years in office in 73 years history of the country. He regretted that the prime ministers, who were elected with votes of people, were either assassinated, hanged, sent to exile or declared as traitors and were disqualified and their punishments were ending even today. “They are facing courts in fake cases along with their family members,” he said.
He said the PML-N would support every decision taken by the APC, observing that the conference should not take just traditional decisions. Speaking at the same conference, former president Asif Ali Zardari said that not only the incumbent government would be sent packing but also democracy would be restored.
“We will have to save Pakistan and will succeed in it,” he said in his welcome address at the APC on Sunday. He said the PPP and PML-N had signed the Charter of Democracy and cooperated to remove General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and passed the 18th Amendment.
Zardari said the 18th Amendment was a wall around the Constitution so that no one either from inside and outside could weaken Pakistan. “But some political pygmies, who did not know about the politics and the selected prime minister, whose political thinking is that he was more intelligent than those who drafted the Constitution, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Wali Khan, Maulana Moududi and other giant political leadership,” he said.
He said he would be the first person after his speech and the APC who would be sent to jail. “But my request to Maulana Sahib (Fazlur Rehman) was that he should come to meet me in jail. I will wait for a meeting with him,” he said in a lighter vein.
He said Bilawal Bhutto on very first day after the election had declared the government as “selected”. He said we have made all-out efforts to save democracy in the country for the last two years, but he did not think that they were in mood to restore democratic institutions. “I will request all of you to formulate a strategy to strengthen democracy as democracy is foundation of any state and then prosperity comes,” he said.
He said we wanted to move forward with sharing the wisdom with all. “I always take advice from others as I believe in taking advice from friends,” he said. The former president also welcomed PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, saying "We are fully aware of the hardships you’ve been through and respect that. My solidarity is with Maryam Nawaz Sharif; she is like my daughter, she has suffered a lot in her struggle, and we stand by her. We will keep fighting for your cause and you will keep fighting for ours, I am sure."
Zardari concluded his speech with a saying, “My message to Pakistani people is that we have united together to save democracy in the country and with the press, we will win through this.” PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari proposed new Charter of Democracy to make it a manifesto to launch anti-government movement.
“The two years of selected experiment brought serious economic disaster and people were looking towards us so we have to make a proper plan of action in the APC instead of rhetoric for gaining the freedom for the people,” he said while addressing the APC. Bilawal also proposed an alliance on the lines of Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) and Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD). “We have to challenge them in National Assembly, Senate, provincial assemblies to get rid of the selected rulers,” he said.
He acknowledged the speech of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari and said it was a clear message and wording of the speech was a direction for the PPP and the PML-N. He said the country never witnessed the economic disaster in last 70 years in shape of inflation, poverty, unemployment and poor economic growth and Mian Nawaz Sharif rightly pointed out that when there was no democracy then society and economic was weaken. “We have witnessed how the crime had increased in the last two years,” he said adding that we have also witnessed when there were no elected representatives then people issues were not taken up and also witnessed that how the people were left in lurch during the recent rains.
He said “we will have to make demand for level playing field in elections.” He said those who were in MRD, ARD and signed the Charter of Democracy, it is our request to them that they have seen the government, power and have seen dictatorships and controlled democracy, and responsibility falls on them to demand real democracy. “We have to form new alliance whose foundation should be new charter of democracy so we should go to people in Gwadar, Peshawar, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and to get the support of people and to transform the country," he said.