ISLAMABAD: While the PTI government celebrates the first anniversary of the 2018 general election today (Thursday), the joint opposition will observe it as a ‘black day’.
The joint opposition will hold public meetings in all the provincial capitals — Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta — while a demonstration will be held in Islamabad.
In a press release, PTI Central Secretary General Amir Mehmood Kiyani said that on July 25, the nation entrusted Mr Khan with the responsibility to lead them and after a year of public service, the PTI is looking forward to commemorating the day as ‘Youm-i-Tashakkur’ (thanksgiving day).
He said the day’s celebrations would begin with “the historic welcome” of the prime minister upon his return from the United States.
Public meetings to be held in all provincial capitals, led by PML-N, PPP and JUI-F leaders
PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn that the joint opposition will stage four public meetings across the country.
Lahore’s public meeting will be presided over by PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, while PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz will address the meeting in Quetta. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will lead the public meeting in Karachi alongside PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq and Jamiat Ulemia-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman will lead the public meeting in Peshawar along with PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal.
Mr Rehman had convened a multi-party conference of opposition parties just last month and announced that July 25 would be observed as a black day.
He said in a statement that his party’s main event will be held in Peshawar, where a public meeting and a ‘million march’ will take place.
He said the JUI-F would observe a black day throughout the country at the district level, adding: “The man roaming in the US has come into power as a result of fake elections.”
In a press conference, Mr Iqbal said the joint opposition would observe a black day across the country to tell the world that the PTI government was not ‘elected’ but ‘selected’.
He said the ‘selected’ prime minister’s main target was removing a television set and a refrigerator from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s room in prison.
Mr Iqbal added that Pakistanis living in America welcomed Mr Khan during his visit to the US because the income they send to Pakistan has increased in value, as the US dollar has appreciated against the Pakistani rupee from Rs115 to Rs160 to a dollar.
He said the prime minister always spoke about reforms without realising that reforms do not come through a political witch hunt but by taking all stakeholders into confidence.
Speaking about Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s remarks that the economy was on the right track, Mr Iqbal said he believed Gen Bajwa was not aware of the factual situation and should review his remarks.
He also accused the government of “paralysing” the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and said the railway track-II project known as ML-I has been stopped.
He said the opposition would not allow the government to strangle the media’s freedom.
“Imran Khan, who locked down Islamabad for four months, is now imposing censorship on PML-N’s political activities,” he said.
No opposition plans in Rawalpindi
The main opposition parties, PPP and PML-N, will not hold any protests in Rawalpindi, but local leaders of both parties have been asked to attend the main gathering in Lahore.
Former PML-N MNA Malik Shakil Awan told Dawn: “We will not hold any protest rally or demonstration, as the party asked local leaders to reach Lahore where PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif will lead the protest demonstration.”
He said the party’s Islamabad chapter will protest outside the National Press Club.
A senior party leader who asked not to be named said that the PML-N lacked coordination and did not tell union council chairmen to gather in Lahore or in their respective areas to protest.
He said union council chairmen and cantonment board members tried to contact the local leadership for party guidelines, but the local leadership did not respond because they too were not aware of the party’s policy.
He said the party was divided into three groups in the city because of the elevation of some local leaders to the provincial level
“Former MNA Hanif Abbasi, vice president of the PML-N Punjab chapter, and former mayor Sardar Naseem are not active in politics and other local leaders did not have information on the party’s policy regarding the protest,” he said.
“We had no plans to stage a protest demonstration in Rawalpindi as the party decided to participate in the PML-N rally in Lahore. Party workers were asked to go to Lahore to make the demonstration bigger,” PPP Rawalpindi chapter spokesperson Nasir Mir said.
JUI-F will lead a rally from Chur Chowk on Peshawar Road to Islamabad via Murree Road, and PML-N workers from the cantonment areas will participate. The party has also asked local seminaries to participate in the rally.
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2019