Fazlur Rehman urges general public, opposition supporters to gather in federal capital to ‘ensure protection’ for lawmakers wishing to vote on no-trust motion
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Monday reiterated his call for the general public and supporters of the united opposition to begin a long march on Islamabad on March 23, adding that it will culminate in a sit-in that may continue until voting has been completed on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“People should be ready to stay in Islamabad,” he told journalists a few hours after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Faisal Javed announced that the party would stage a “historic” rally at D-Chowk in Islamabad on March 27, a day before Speaker Asad Qaiser plans to place the no-trust motion for a vote. “We are not sure how long the long march will last,” he added.
The PTI has claimed it would gather one million people in the federal capital to display its political standing among the general public. The ruling party’s lawmakers have claimed that the crowd would stay at D-Chowk until the no-trust motion has been voted on, with some ministers warning that the crowd would hold any dissident lawmakers to account and prevent them from entering Parliament in violation of the Constitution.
“From the door of Parliament House to Shahrah-e-Dastoor, we will hold a historic rally,” said the PDM chief. “Through this, we will give a safe passage to all lawmakers for reaching the [Lower House] safely and casting their vote,” he said, referring to the PTI’s threats of discouraging its lawmakers from attending the National Assembly session through public pressure.
Fazl’s announcement followed a meeting of the opposition parties, which had been convened to deliberate on the ruling party’s plans for the no-confidence vote. He noted that in addition to the component parties of the PDM, invitations had also been extended to the Awami National Party, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the National Democratic Movement for their participation. “Our strategy will be different from last time’s long march,” he said, referring to the JUIF’s long march on the federal capital in 2019.
Stressing that the opposition’s no-confidence motion was “in accordance” with the expectations and aspirations of all Pakistanis, the PDM chief accused the PTI of indulging in “unconstitutional” tactics by trying to warn lawmakers from attending Parliament to vote on the no-trust resolution.
It is still unclear when, exactly, Speaker Asad Qaiser plans to convene the National Assembly session requisitioned by the opposition. Under the Constitution, it must be convened within 14 days of its filing, in this case no later than March 22. After the session has been convened, the no-trust resolution must be tabled and voted upon, no earlier than three days after the Lower House takes it up and no later than seven days. The latest the vote could take place, per the rules, is March 30.