Without specifying schedule, opposition lawmakers vow to relaunch anti-government movement against inflation, ‘unjust’ rule
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) opposition alliance on Sunday vowed to resume its anti-government rallies and caravans, claiming the time had come to secure an end to the “unjust rule” of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government.
Addressing by key PDM leaders, the rally in Karachi reiterated a desire to culminate its latest anti-government measures in a march toward Islamabad. But, like its large push, they stopped short of announcing any date or schedule for the campaign.
Attended by thousands of men, women and children, the rally featured all the remaining component parties of the anti-government alliance. Both the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Awami National Party had parted ways with the PDM earlier this year after several months of back-and-forth accusations of them not wishing to adhere to the majority opinion on how best to tackle the government.
“In today’s scenario it’s a crime to stay silent,” former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif told the gathering via video-link from London. “A few generals and elite of the society have made this democratic system a hostage. We remained silent when the elected prime minister was thrown out. We stayed silent when votes were snatched and blue-eyed people were imposed over the country to rule. We stayed silent when honest and God-fearing judges were implicated in false cases. We stayed silent when the RTS [results transmission system] collapsed [in 2018 general elections] and we stayed silent when the country’s poor segment of society was deprived of food. Now you have to decide that whether you want to stand with those who are suffering and scared or with those who raise their voice against injustice,” he said.
In his address, PMLN President Shahbaz Sharif claimed that his party would stand for all demands to ensure “social, economic and legal rights” for all Pakistanis. Slamming Prime Minister Imran Khan for failing to deliver on his promise to provide development funds to Sindh province, he claimed the government was using “false promises” to lull the populace into a “false sense of security.”
Recalling that Khan had once declared that currency devaluation was directly linked to rulers’ corruption, he questioned who the Pakistani rupee’s current standing against the U.S. dollar could be blamed on. “What would he know of the burdens of the poor man, who longs for even a single meal?” he asked.
He urged the public to unite against the government, claiming that once a “tide of people” reached the federal capital, it would “wipe out this storm of inflation and bury this government.”
PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who also heads his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), admitted that various reasons had led to the multi-party forum becoming inactive for several months. A joint strategy of the opposition parties would soon be visible in towns and cities, he claimed.
“From now onwards you would see not only the rallies but also road caravans across the country and definitely there would be a march to Islamabad,” he said, reiterating his allegations of the incumbent government being “unjust and illegal.” He also accused the PTI of increasing poverty and lawlessness in the country. He also took aim at the role played by the military establishment, criticizing its alleged interference into politics. “If the Army interferes into politics, it goes against the defined rules of the Constitution,” he said. “And if we politicians concede to the unjust rule, illegal government and accept the supremacy of the government that came into power through backdoor, we would defy our oath that we take as parliamentarians. Only the supremacy of law and the parliament can run this country,” he said.
Rehman also hit out at the prime minister’s repeated claims of not allowing the use of any military bases in Pakistan to the U.S. “But you have opened up all your hotels to the Americans now,” he said, referring to evacuees from Afghanistan being permitted to transit through Islamabad. “We sold Kashmir off to Modi who does not wish to answer our phone call,” he continued. “And for the rest of Kashmir, he talks about a referendum. You do not even know the state policy for Kashmir,” he added.
The PDM president also reiterated the opposition’s allegations of the incumbent government rigging election, claiming that in Gilgit-Balistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir “votes were stolen and given to the PTI.”