ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The move of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) aiming at ouster of the PTI government will enter decisive phase next month as the Movement’s steering committee which here on Wednesday decided to stage long march towards Islamabad in last week of January.
The PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal who also heads steering committee, told The News that prior to holding long march, the PDM leadership has also planned to give call for wheel-jam strike in middle of January as a build up to the long march.
Ahsan Iqbal further said that the PDM leadership will make announcement of final dates of long march, wheel-jam strike and countrywide protest programmes at Lahore public meeting on December 13. “From December 13 event, the PDM parties will build up momentum for the long march and wheel-jam strike,” Ahsan Iqbal said.
Without giving further details, the PDM leader said caravans from various parts of the country will move towards Islamabad as a part of long march. The meeting of the steering committee was also attended by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raja Parvaiz Ashraf, Muhammad Awais Noorani and others.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference following meeting of the steering committee, the spokesman for PDM, Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the committee besides deciding long march in last week of January, also chalked out a plan of protest events which would be announced at the Lahore public meeting. “We are also starting to make contacts with traders, lawyers and people from all walks of life to prepare them for the long march,” Mian Iftikhar said.
He said the PDM leadership and workers were all set to stage mega event in Lahore despite the fact that the government was applying all possible tactics to foil the public meeting. “We will defeat the government and the Lahore public meeting will be big success for us,” he said, reminding the government that they believed in peaceful protest.
Responding to a question, Mian Iftikhar said the Government could not hold local bodies polls, whereas it was making claims of holding by-elections if the opposition members resign from assemblies. He said the government, which is in fear, has already started arrests.
Ahsan Iqbal said if there was any threat alert then it was responsibility of the government to neutralise it and give protection to the masses. On that Mian Iftikhar said the threat alert was also there in Peshawar and Quetta before PDM public meetings.
Meanwhile, the PDM leaders vowed they will hold the Lahore rally — which they have termed as the "final nail in the government's coffin" — despite the administration "turning the venue into a dam".
The PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, flanked by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, addressed a press conference following a meeting between the three to inform the media that the rally, due to be held at Minar-e-Pakistan, will be held "at all costs".
"And in the coming days we will finalise the strategy for throwing our resignations in their faces," Fazlur Rehman added, referring to his call a day earlier for all opposition parliamentarians to hand in their resignations from provincial and national assemblies to party heads by the year's end.
Fazlur Rehman said that the government's moves in the lead up to the rally were discussed in the meeting. "We already made decisions yesterday (Tuesday) and we announced them yesterday to the media. Today (Wednesday), during our discussions, we came to debate over how the Punjab government is making a dam out of the Minar-e-Pakistan venue so that it is rendered useless to hold a rally.
"They don't want to stop us, but don't want to give us permission and then where we want to hold a rally, they've created a dam. So we discussed alternate strategies as well. But the rally will take place at all costs," Fazlur Rehman said.
He underscored that if the government creates hurdles then the Opposition will "forge a second path" and then a third if required. "But we will not divulge anything to you at this point," he said, to amused chuckles from reporters.
When asked how the opposition movement will see that democracy is upheld while ousting the incumbent government, Fazlur Rehman said: "There is no democracy in place today. It is dictatorship that has buried democracy. We have spoken of a democratically elected government of the people and the supremacy of the Constitution. We do not accept this government as one elected by the people, or one that is constitutional or democratic."
Fazlur Rehman, speaking of what will happen to the Senate electoral college and elections when the Sindh Assembly will be dissolved due to resignations, said that if the next Senate elections are held with the current assemblies, they will be "fake elections".
"We consider breaking the electoral college a democratic process and are making a strategy for that. We are also consulting constitutional experts," he said, adding that the opposition is on the same page and same stage.
Bilawal, when asked why PPP has taken to the streets when it used to believe in parliamentary politics, said: "Our politics began from the streets. We have fought against every dictatorship and will continue to."
Bilawal, to another question, said that all the 11 parties are resolute to "send the government packing". "We are all on the same page, we had declared in September that resignations will be part of the options we will consider."
"We will use every weapon we can to send them home. And the people are all with us," he said, adding that a party meeting has been called on resignations issue.
Maryam, during her interaction with media, said: " Maulana Sahab represented all of us and it is our joint decision to hand in resignations." She said that the venue for the rally will not change and the gathering will be held with full enthusiasm.
The PML-N vice president, to a question regarding past government projects to which the current government are "laying claim by placing their inaugural plaques", said: "They have no projects for us to lay claim to. Which projects of theirs will we ever be able to take over?"
The PDM leadership has pledged to hold the scheduled Lahore gathering at all costs. Addressing a convention under the aegis of JUI-F in Lahore, the PDM leaders warned that the entire Lahore was looking forward to the historic public meeting and if the brutal state force was used against peaceful political workers then entire responsibility of the eventual situation would rest on the shoulders of PTI government and its patrons. The convention was chaired by JUI-F Secretary General Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, while other speakers included ANP leader Ameer Bahadur Khan Hoti, PML-N leader Hafiz Nauman, PPP Ulema wing president Maulana Yusuf Awan, Jamiat Ahle Hadith leader Hafiz Yunus Azad, JUP leader Dr Javed Awan, JUI-F information secretary Maulana Amjad Khan and others.
Maulana Ghafoor Haidri said never in the country's history the entire political spectrum and masses had joined hands to throw out a government that was illegal, incompetent and carrying out the agenda of the enemies of the country.
Meanwhile, the PPP has decided to take the final decision of the submission of resignation after the meeting of its Central Executive Committee (CEC). The date of the CEC of the PPP was not decided yet and it is expected that the meeting will be held after the public rally of the Lahore.
The PPP held its consultative meeting on Wednesday, which was chaired by its Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Zardari House and was attended by the senior leaders, including former prime ministers Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Senator Sherry Rehman and Farhatullah Babar. During the meeting, the different proposals were discussed to make the party strategy with regard to resignations.
It was decided that all the decision of the PDM be abide by and the final decision on the matter of resignations will be taken after the meeting of the CEC. Sources said the PPP wanted a calculated game plan for resistance movement before exercising the option of resignations. It was decided that PPP will participate in the Lahore rally of PDM with full enthusiasm and party workers be mobilised for it.
Meanwhile, the PML-N central leader Khawaja Saad Rafique has said that the new Pakistan given to the people by the rulers is a fraud, which is not needed. He said this while talking to media at Minar-e-Pakistan. He said the new Pakistan was built on lies, frauds and allegations. He said the PTI government has become isolated after the people came out against them on roads. Khawaja Saad Rafique said that democracy will win in Lahore on December 13.
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