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Government, opposition face-off in Peshawar

Top Story

November 22, 2020

Government, opposition face- off in Peshawar

ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was playing “reckless” politics with people’s safety, which in the past had been calling for a strict lockdown due to COVID-19.

The prime minister’s remarks came a day ahead of scheduled public gathering of 11-member coalition of opposition parties in Peshawar today where the COVID-19 positivity rate has reached above 13 percent.

“The same PDM (members) who had wanted a strict lockdown and criticised me earlier are now playing reckless politics with people’s safety,” he said on Twitter.

He said the PDM members were even defying court orders and holding a public gathering when cases were rising dramatically.

Meanwhile, President Dr. Arif Alvi Saturday said the opposition should talk to the government for decreasing ongoing political tension in the country.

In an interview with a private TV channel, he said the opposition’s attitude that they will not hold negotiations with the government but the military was not right and this should not happen in democracies.

He said the opposition had started confrontation with the establishment but this should not happen, as it would harm the country.

He said negotiations between the government and opposition on the issue of holding free and fair voting could be a big confidence building measure in which ‘we should ensure that transparent elections are held in 2023’.

President Dr. Arif Alvi requested the PTI and opposition to postpone public gatherings until the second wave of coronavirus showed a decreasing trend.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Saturday cautioned that if the coronavirus cases escalated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FIRs would be lodged against the opposition leaders and organisers of the rallies.

The minister tweeted that the opposition was bent upon proving irresponsibility and its insistence on holding the public meeting was a reflection of their undemocratic thinking and irresponsible attitude.

“There is no legal or moral justification for holding a meeting following the court and government orders. Playing with the health and lives of the people for personal gain is the greatest selfishness,” he contended.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Fazlur Rehman Saturday said time had come for "Pakistan's Trump" to be "removed" from the office.

"One Trump [has left the office], we will send the Pakistani Trump packing," he said, referring to US President Donald Trump's failure to win a second term in office and the opposition's aim to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, where a rally in defiance of all government warnings is due to be held on Sunday (today) by the PDM, Fazl said, "This government is the representative of a stolen mandate. It is not the representative of the people."

"A historic rally will take place tomorrow in Peshawar," he said, adding that the next rally will be held on November 26 in Larkana which his party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), will host.

Fazl said the opposition will not allow the government to rest at any stage in the movement.

He said another rally will take place on November 30 in Multan.

Speaking of the government's warnings against holding rallies, he said they found no other excuse, so they started raising a hue and cry about the spread of coronavirus.

"This illegitimate government itself is a big corona," he said, adding, "While we talk about COVID-19, we should also shed light upon COVID-18."

He said the state institutions supporting the PTI government were not playing their role to safeguard the stability of the country.

The PDM chief said the opposition's campaign against the government had reached its peak and that the organisational structure of the movement was now complete.

He said the country's situation could be assessed by looking at Peshawar's Bus Rapid Transit.

"We represent every school of thought and every section of the country," Fazlur Rehman claimed.

Referring to a State Bank of Pakistan report stating that the country's GDP growth had plunged to 0.4%, he said due to the financial crisis, the country's very existence was at stake.