KARACHI: Reviving the anti-government campaign that had stalled over the past couple of months, leaders of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) have said that today’s (Sunday) rally at the Quaid’s mausoleum will be a decisive referendum against the incompetent and corrupt government.
Addressing a press conference after attending a PDM’s leaders meeting on Saturday, the alliance chief and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUIF) head Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN)’s president Shahbaz Sharif said that the alliance will announce the “decisive phase” of its struggle against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government.
“The alliance will issue a white paper against the worst performance of the incumbent in the three years of its rule and announce the schedule of upcoming country-wide rallies,” said Rehman.
The meeting participants expressed sorrow over the fire at a chemical factory that killed 16 labourers in Karachi, the blast in Quetta which left several injured, and other incidents, he said.
Rehman said leaders of all the political parties associated with the anti-government movement had attended the meeting, and they expressed grief over the ongoing "instability" in the country.
He further said that the PDM also rejected the government's electoral reforms, which he said that the entire world has rejected the electronic voting machine (EVM) and termed it the “simplest way to rig elections.”
He said that the PDM will support the lawyers’ campaign and join their struggle for an independent judiciary. Recently, 17,000 employees were sacked under the guise of a court decision, he said.
Criticising Pakistan People's Party (PPP) for “stabbing the PDM in the back,” Rehman said that the Karachi rally will also highlight the issues faced by people in Sindh. “The PPP has become completely irrelevant and therefore we do not want to open a pandora’s box for them.”
Rehman also said that the alliance’s component parties have rejected the government’s attempt to establish the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) and termed it a government move to put further curbs on the media.
“An undeclared martial law has been imposed in the country and we do not accept the black law regarding media restrictions,” said Rehman.
He said that the PDM’s component parties unanimously agreed that the incumbent government has “completely failed” in combating the prevailing internal and external threats, controlling the inflation that has become unbearable for the poor and giving employment to the youth.
The JUIF chief said that women would fully participate in the Karachi rally meeting and separate arrangements have been made for them.
Shehbaz Sharif, who is also Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, said the PDM will move forward unanimously under the leadership of Rehman.
He said that opposition parties are with the media fraternity in opposing the government’s move to curb media freedom. “Opposition parties will not only oppose the government's move in the parliament but also organise protests on the roads.”
In response to a question, Sharif said that PMLN is united and there are no differences among the party ranks.
In the PDM’s leadership meeting under chairmanship of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, besides Shehbaz Sharif, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpeo, Prof Sajid Mir and Awais Shah Noorani also participated.
According to PDM sources, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar joined the meeting from London through video link, while Maryam Nawaz was also making her presence via video link. PDM leaders from Balochistan – Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Dr Abdul Malik – didn’t participate. However, representatives of BNP-Mengal, PkMAP and National Awami Party (NAP) were present in the meeting. The BNP-Mengal and NAP were of the view that something more should be done and protest rallies were not enough (to bring the change).
PML-N Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, meanwhile, said in a statement that the mothers, sisters and daughters of the nation will all participate in Sunday's PDM meeting.
She said special enclosures have been made for women to attend in the public meeting. The former information minister said women are a fundamental and proud part of the PDM movement.
She said women have played a proud and glorious role in the political history of Pakistan and God willing, the women of Pakistan will make another historic golden political chapter with the platform of the PDM.