Opposition alliance chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman says demonstrations will ramp up following Eid Miladun Nabi
Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday announced that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) opposition led by him will organize demonstrations across Pakistan over the next two weeks to protest against the incumbent government’s rampant inflation.
“When we are done with celebrations of Eid Miladun Nabi, we will start a full-fledged campaign against inflation,” he told journalists in Islamabad following an informal meeting with senior members of the PDM. “We appeal to the entire nation to fully participate in the protests and rallies,” he said, as he summarized the debts incurred by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government and the policies that had boosted inflationary pressures on the public.
Rehman emphasized that the public had been overwhelmed by the massive increase to petroleum prices notified last week. “The price of petrol has gone up by over Rs. 30/liter since June,” he said. “The government has become the watchdog of the IMF instead of protecting the interests of the country and the nation,” he added.
To a question on whether the PDM would support Prime Minister Imran Khan in the interest of civilian supremacy, he said the query was based on a false premise. “I object to your question calling Imran Khan the prime minister. We will not support him in any way,” he said, echoing an earlier statement by Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Vice President Maryam Nawaz who had likewise rejected any support for an “imposed” prime minister. To another question, he said there was no longer any possibility of the Pakistan Peoples Party rejoining the PDM.
The PDM is set to hold another meeting today (Monday) to finalize its protest agenda.
United against inflation
Prior to the informal meeting at Rehman’s residence, he spoke with PMLN President Shahbaz Sharif by phone, with both leaders pledging to lead the opposition in its campaign against inflation. In a statement, the PMLN confirmed that Sharif and Rehman had criticized the government’s policies and blamed them for inflicting the “worst inflation in the country’s history.”
It said that Sharif had told Rehman that it was now time for leaders to leave their homes and take to the streets to “save the nation from inflation, unemployment, and the ongoing economic catastrophe across the country.” Sharif also issued a separate statement emphasizing that the PTI-led government had failed to stem inflation while also failing to restore an International Monetary Fund bailout program.
“After the failure of the talks with the IMF, the government should revert the hike in prices,” he said, claiming that despite “three years of blind obedience to the IMF,” the PTI had yet to show any positive benefit for the people. “This government has been seeing to the economic murder of people for the last three years,” he claimed and demanded the PTI explain why it had increased the prices of electricity, gas, petrol, flour, and sugar.
The PMLN leader also hit out at P.M. Khan for his government’s inability to restore the IMF program. “Imran Niazi used to chant slogans that he would rather commit suicide than going to the IMF,” he said of the premier’s speeches during his time in the opposition.