Set to take place in Quetta, the protest aims at ridding Pakistan of ‘unconstitutional system’ of governance
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), comprising a coalition of opposition parties, on Tuesday announced it would organize its first public rally against the country’s “unconstitutional system” in Quetta on Oct. 11.
“On Oct. 11, [the] PDM will hold [its] first public rally and then the movement will spread all over Pakistan and rid [the country] of this unconstitutional system,” former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), flanked by leaders of all major parties, announced in a press conference.
He said the PDM had also approved the makeup of a steering committee, adding that its organizational structure would now be submitted to every party’s independent leadership for final approval. He said all details pertaining to the organization would be shared with the public as soon as they were finalized.
Briefing journalists on the discussions that occurred during Tuesday’s meeting, Abbasi said the “shrinking space for democracy” had been condemned, adding the ongoing “flood of inflation, rising unemployment and historic corruption” was also censured.
The PMLN leader said that issues “frustrating” the public were also deliberated in the meeting. “You will see that this movement will bring about a real political transformation in the country,” he claimed.
In his address, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of the Pakistan Peoples Party said that the chairmanship of the steering committee would be assigned on a rotational basis. “The convenorship for the first month is with PMLN and [the convener] will be Ahsan Iqbal,” he said.
Condemning the arrest of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, he said that it risked weakening democratic institutions and angering democratic Pakistanis. He said there was “no reason” to arrest the opposition leader until the reference filed against him had resulted in a conviction.
The former prime minister said the united opposition felt that government ministers, by staging press conferences in which they predicted arrests of opposition leaders, had further compromised the independence of the National Accountability Bureau. “The common man begins to see it that way when someone says that there is a government and NAB nexus [and then such actions are taken],” he added.
On the PDM’s plans after Oct. 11, Ashraf said “there will be a series of rallies in all provinces.” He said these rallies were necessary to convey to the government the pressure being felt by the public. “The opposition cannot remain quiet. We are part of a democratic system and we want to move forward democratically,” he said.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl)’s Maulana Ghafoor Haideri also addressed the gathering and vowed that the opposition’s movement would continue until they had succeeded in removing the “selected government.”