PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz on Thursday urged unnamed institutions to "not come face to face" with the people of Pakistan for the sake of what she called the "incapable" government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
She was addressing a public gathering in Quetta's Ayub Stadium, one of numerous events and rallies held across the country by the opposition parties to mark the first anniversary of the 2018 general elections as 'Youm-e-Siah' — 'black day'.
The joint opposition are holding public meetings in all provincial capitals — Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta — while a demonstration was also held in Islamabad.
Addressing the "respected institutions" of the country, Maryam said that these institutions represented all the provinces of Pakistan, "but you are not the institutions of Imran Khan. You are not the representatives of the man who brought historical failure to Pakistan."
"Don't pick a fight with the people for the incapable and failed Imran Khan," she said while addressing the unnamed institutions.
Claiming that the people of Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were upset with, but "want to respect", the institutions, she urged these powers to "come forward and hug" the people of various provinces and solve their issues. She also asked them to "honour the vote" and let the people's representatives be elected.
Maryam said the opposition parties were observing 'Youm-i-Siyah' today because a year ago on this day, "Your vote was crushed under the foot."
She questioned the origins of the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), saying it was imposed upon the people of Balochistan after "snatching" their right to elect their representative. The people's "true representatives" were asked forced to switch their loyalties and "fake cases" were instituted against those who refused to comply, the PML-N leader alleged.
Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan as "selected" once again, she alleged that every day under the rule of the incumbent government was a black day for Pakistanis suffering from high inflation and the loss of their businesses.
She alleged that the premier had "sat silently" when US President Donald Trump, during the former's recent visit to Washington, stated that the former Pakistani governments had not cooperated with the US.
"He does not even have the self-respect to represent Pakistan in the US by himself. [He] took people from institutions with him because no one is ready to listen to him alone," she said.
Maryam claimed that the country was going through a severe economic crisis because the vote of Pakistani people "had not been honoured".
She also claimed that whichever city she holds a public gathering in, "6,000-7,000 people are arrested" there and TV channels are warned against broadcasting her speeches.
Lauding her father's past efforts to "honour the vote", she said Nawaz Sharif could have formed a PML-N government after the 2013 general elections if he had so desired, "but he honoured the vote of Balochistan's people and made Dr Abdul Malik Baloch the chief minister of Balochistan". She even claimed that the PML-N could have formed its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013 after some "manipulation" but that Sharif had respected the majority obtained by the PTI.
It was also Nawaz Sharif who decided from jail that the person to replace incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani should be Hasil Bizenjo from Balochistan, she added.
"These are the elected representatives of the people who connect the hearts and provinces," Maryam said, adding that the "wheel of progress" in Pakistan has stopped under the PTI government.
Mahmood Khan Achakzai, the chairman of Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, and other opposition leaders also joined Maryam at the rally. Security had been beefed up around the stadium.
In a post shared on Twitter prior to her departure, Maryam wrote that every day under the current government — that she alleged had "stolen votes and was a fraud" — is a black day for the country.
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led the public meeting at Bagh-e-Jinnah in Karachi alongside PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq. Opposition parties had set up welcome camps around the location and strict security arrangements were made.
Addressing the rally, Bilawal alleged that a "selected government" was imposed on the people of Pakistan after the 2018 elections on July 25 — a day he too termed "black day".
He said the PTI government had made life difficult for people by "dropping the bomb of inflation" and downed the image of Pakistan before the international community.
"And today, we are formally initiating a disobedience drive against the government," the PPP leader announced.
Bilawal said if the country today has an agreed constitution, "it is the Islamic, democratic, federal Constitution of 1973, which was composed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in collaboration with Mufti Mahmood and other parties."
"We [the PPP] and the PML-N signed the important document of Charter of Democracy, through which we restored the 1973 Constitution with the help of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
"We, in collaboration with the ANP, provided identity to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by changing the name of NWFP province. Hasil Bizenjo and his father, Mir Ghous Bux Bizenjo, spent their lives for the rights of the people of Balochistan. Moulana Noorani had always struggled for inter-faith harmony and democracy. Achakzai has also spent his entire life for democracy and rights of nations.
"We have our own political parties, thoughts and political constitutions. And in the past, we had engaged each other in political fights but we all are patriotic Pakistanis," Bilawal told the crowd.
He said the aforementioned political leaders had fought together for the country's interest and for the supremacy of democracy.
"Today, we all can see that democracy in Pakistan is in danger. Our federation is being targeted.
"Pakistan is facing so many problems that a single political party or politician cannot resolve them. And today, once again, we are united," the PPP chairperson said.
He thanked Ayaz Sadiq, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F, Senator Raza Mohammad Raza of the PkMAP, Amal Wali of the ANP, Mohammad Baloch of the National Party and other political leaders for participating in the rally.
The opposition parties in the National Assembly had also decided to hold a general convention today outside the Mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Central leaders of the opposition parties addressed the event while conventions were also held in other provincial capitals.
Lahore’s public meeting was presided over by PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif at Mall Road.
Shehbaz strongly criticised the prime minister for his political and economic policies and what he called "the worst revenge on the pretext of accountability".
He alleged that on July 25, 2018, the worst-ever election rigging in the history took place. "From Chitral to Karachi, votes were counted in the absence of polling agents," he added.
The PML-N president also presented a comparison between the prices of bread during the tenure of the PML-N and the incumbent government. "What is the price of a roti today — Rs15," he said while addressing the prime minister and recalled that it was available against Rs5 during the tenure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
"During the tenure of Nawaz Sharif, the prices of medicines were reasonable and were made available free of cost in government-run hospitals, while today, traders, livelihood and even voices are suppressed," he added.
"Tens of thousands of people have become jobless [...] do you want more joblessness and more expensive bread? — if no, then there is only one way, dislodge Imran Niazi."
PPP Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira also addressed the rally.
A large contingent of police and anti-riot force personnel were stationed around Mall Road, where heavy rainfall affected preparations.
Earlier, it was reported that the Punjab government had denied permission to the opposition to hold a rally on The Mall today.
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal lashed out at the government during a public gathering, saying that the incumbent government had "ruined" the economy in the first year of its tenure.
He was addressing a public meeting at Motorway Chowk on Ring Road in Peshawar alongside members of opposition parties including Qaumi Watan Party's Chairman Aftab Sherpao and Awami National Party's President Asfandyar Wali Khan. Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was leading the rally, also addressed the gathering.
A visibly charged Iqbal said that Prime Minister Imran has asked for loans from every friendly nation. "He (prime minister) used to say that he would commit suicide but not ask the International Monetary Fund for money," Iqbal said.
The former planning minister said that Nawaz Sharif had delivered on all his promises and merged the tribal areas with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Over 1,100 police officers and 250 traffic police officers were on duty for the opposition gathering at Motorway Chowk.
Local leaders and workers of the PML-N carried out a protest rally in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad.
Participants of the rally, which included local leaders of the JUI-F and PkMAP, chanted slogans against Prime Minister Imran and his government. Police and other security personnel were present at the protest site.
Addressing the rally, PkMAP Islamabad president Abdul Qayyum Achakzai alleged that the PTI government had promised "change" but instead imposed taxes worth Rs750 billion on the people after coming into power.
He claimed that supporters of his party were unable to join the opposition rally in Balochistan because roads across the province had allegedly been blocked. "We strongly condemn [the move]," he added.
On the other side of the capital, supporters of the ruling PTI cut a cake to celebrate and observe "Thanks Giving Day" today to mark Prime Minister Imran's ascension to power.
The premier, while addressing a large crowd at a community event at Washington's Capital One Arena on his first day in the US, had gone after opposition leaders and threatened to 'take away' their prison facilities. "They will stay there as long as they do not return the money they have looted," Imran had thundered to a charged audience.
Opposition parties had lambasted Prime Minister Imran over his speech and termed it “provocative, anarchic and full of venom”.