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MQM-P, PSP decry Pakistan Democratic Movement rally for no word on Karachi’s issues

By Our Correspondent
October 20, 2020

Reacting to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) public meeting in Karachi on Sunday, leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) on Monday slammed the opposition alliance for not speaking on the longstanding issues of Karachi at the event.

MQM-P’s take

Slamming Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Chairmen Mehmood Khan Achakzai for his remarks about Urdu language at yesterday’s public gathering of the PDM, the MQM-P said Karachi residents had outrightly rejected the opposition parties’ alliance by not participating in their rally held at Karachi’s Jinnah Bagh.

The MQM-P leaders said the absence of Karachi residents in Sunday’s rally was a testament to the fact that the opposition leaders had done nothing for the city’s development and prosperity.

“The parties forming the PDM alliance used the Sindh government’s funds to bring people from other cities to their rally,” said MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari while addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters.

He said the PMD organised the rally in Karachi but the leaders of its component parties did not say a single word about the issues the city had been facing for the past several years. “Except for delivering speeches based on linguistic and racial bias, the PDM leaders also did not do anything for the city’s development.”

Lashing out at the PkMAP chairmen’s remarks about Urdu language, the MQM-P leader said the silence of the heads of the opposition parties over Achakzai’s remarks showed that it was their joint narrative about the country’s national language. “The entire country is worried that the head of a political party in front of the Quaid’s tomb has been using derogatory remarks about the country’s national language.”

The PPP-led Sindh’s bureaucracy had deprived youths of the province's jobs in the urban centres by issuing fake domiciles to residents of the rural areas, he said. “Many got through on fake domiciles and those who have undertaken the practice must be weeded out and sacked.”

He continued: “If the opposition parties are silent over the Sindh government’s biased acts against the province’s urban centres, we will consider them its partner in the crime.”

Subzwari demanded that his party’s offices, which have been sealed since August 2016, should be handed back to them.

Commenting on the PMD’s rally, MQM-P leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan said the rally's “organisers and participants were not locals”. Reiterating the demand for a separate province comprising the urban parts of Sindh, the MQM-P leader said Karachi had been destroyed in the past few years.

PSP’s response

The PSP chairman lamented that not a single component party of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an 11-party alliance formed against the federal government, spoke about Karachi’s issues during their rally on Sunday, even though it was held in the city.

Syed Mustafa Kamal told a news conference at the PSP’s Pakistan House that his party will hold a massive public meeting to respond to the PDM on November 8 at the Bagh-e-Jinnah ground, the same venue where the alliance had held its rally.

Flanked by the PSP’s other leaders, including party president Anis Kaimkhani, Kamal said the PSP alone will showcase the true spirit of the public’s power in his party’s rally next month. “We will make the world realise that since we have changed the fate of Karachi in the past, we have the capability and competence to change Pakistan too.”

He accused the PDM of using Karachi for its nefarious political purposes. “The PDM’s platform has been used to try to discredit Pakistan’s armed forces and security agencies. We consider it a conspiracy against the institutions of national integrity.”

The former mayor of the city also criticised the Centre for its alleged incompetence as well as for the purportedly unprecedented inflation, unemployment and poverty being seen during their rule.

He said that when Prime Minister Imran Khan repeatedly claims that the establishment and the government are on the same page, it seems that he is implying that inflation, unemployment and poverty have been rising at the behest of the establishment, thereby defaming the establishment.

Kamal asked the PM to stop defaming the armed forces of Pakistan and the institutions working for the integrity of the country so that he could hide his sheer “incompetence”. He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz knows that votes will not ask for food, potable water, education or medicine when they get sick, nor will they need vaccines for dog bites, but on the other hand, human beings will demand all the basic necessities. “Corrupt rulers don’t want to provide these rights to the voters. The power struggle between the government and the opposition has nothing to do with the well-being of the ordinary citizens.”

The PSP chief said that the Pakistan Peoples Party, which hosted the PDM’s public meeting on Sunday, has been ruling the province for the past 12 years.

“In the past six months alone, over 100,000 people have been bitten by dogs, and there is no vaccine for dog bites across the province. The doors of employment have already been closed on the youth of Karachi, and the population has been reduced in the census.”

Kamal recalled that Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had to come to Karachi to talk about cleaning the storm water drains of Karachi, which is the economic lifeline of the country.

Massive rally

On Sunday, the PDM’s component parties, mainly the PPP, the PML-N and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), managed to organise a successful power show at Bagh-e-Jinnah by bringing a large number of party workers and supporters. The ground was jam-packed with a massive crowd, including activists and supporters, of all the opposition parties.

Entering the venue was quite a challenge for the participants. People were coming in dozens holding party flags. Members of the PPP as well as uniformed volunteers of the Awami National Party (ANP) and the JUI-F were performing security duties at the walk-through gates and were allowing people in only after frisking them.

Najmi Alam, a PPP leader from Karachi, said that arrangements had been made to ensure 50,000 seats were present inside the venue for the participants.

For the PML-N’s Sindh chapter, Maryam Nawaz’s visit to Karachi and her participation in the PDM rally signalled the hope of strengthening the party in the metropolis and winning a significant number of seats in the upcoming local government elections.

Maryam arrived at the Karachi airport at noon along with her husband MNA Capt (retd) Safdar and the party’s central information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb. On her arrival, Maryam was accorded a warm welcome by the party’s workers.

Dozens of camps were set up on Sharea Faisal to welcome Maryam. PML-N leaders also brought with them a number of camels. As a goodwill gesture, the PML-N vice president was welcomed by the PPP by erecting large Panaflex banners displaying her picture as well as her father’s along the route of her rally.

After leaving the airport, Maryam visited the Quaid’s mausoleum to offer Fateha. She was accompanied by former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair, Capt Safdar, party spokesperson Marriyum and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

While leaving the mausoleum, Maryam told the media that she was overwhelmed by the love she received in Karachi. “Quaid-e-Azam had said that governments should come and go through votes.”

With the PPP ruling the province of Sindh, the party expected full cooperation from the local administration in organising the PDM rally at Bagh-e-Jinnah, unlike what the PML-N as the host faced in Gujranwala.

Taking advantage of being on home ground, the host party’s supporters had started arriving at the venue a little early in the day. The banners put up on the buses gave one the impression that the party’s supporters from across the province had gathered in Karachi to attend the PDM rally.

The ANP and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, the two Pashtun parties that are part of the PDM, also managed to bring a significant crowd mainly from the city’s Pashtun-dominated neighbourhoods.

A sizeable number of Pashtun youth belonging to former tribal areas had arrived to listen to Mohsin Dawar, an MNA and a leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement. He had not attended the first rally of the opposition alliance in Gujranwala.