KARACHI: The Pakistan Democratic Movement is set to stage its second power show today in Karachi where unlike Gujranwala the 11-party opposition alliance finds it easy to hold a rally at Bagh-i-Jinnah with all facilitation from local administration and police, lifting hopes of Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari about the success of the show and eventual fall of the Imran Khan-led government.
Although the prime minister and his ministers ruled out any threat to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government amid rising political temperature and momentum of the opposition parties, the PPP and leaders of other parties in the alliance were counting his days mainly on “support from the people” and expected a “jam-packed” venue adjacent to the Quaid’s mausoleum.
“The PPP is going to stage a massive power show, which would tell Imran Khan what the people think about him,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari told Dawn in brief replies to a couple of queries. “I don’t even have a shadow of a doubt over the success of the PDM campaign.”
“It’s launched in the same spirit like the PPP led in the past campaigns of MRD [Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against General Zia regime] and ARD [Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy against General Musharraf]. The Oct 18 rally would let Imran Khan know where the people really stand. It’s time for the puppet PM to get panicked.”
Preparations under way amid enthusiasm
This reporter visited Bagh-i-Jinnah on Saturday evening and found a number of party workers and volunteers giving final touches to the arrangements in the presence of almost an equal number of policemen and local officials.
A giant multi-container stage was being raised facing the Quaid’s mausoleum with Preedy Street on its back.
Bilawal says it’s time for Imran Khan to get panicked; Nawaz will not address rally
Just two days ago, the opposition was complaining against the PTI-led Punjab government for launching a crackdown before its Oct 16 Gujranwala rally and found it hard to make the show a success. But in Karachi the situation remains totally different. Amid security of police and assistance of the local administration, a large number of excited youngsters and workers of the ruling party are making arrangements for the rally against the PTI government.
A pile of huge-sized speakers to support the sound system was being loaded over several trucks so they could be fixed at different places in the ground. Behind the stage, a handful of youngsters were fixing a bunch of wires to connect them with the panel of sound and music system being set up along the stage.
Over the stage electrifying scenes emerged when the lighting arrangements were finally approved by the local leaders. The stage is ready and so is the opposition.
“We are arranging chairs,” said Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani who is also the city president of the PPP. “But you see the number of chairs never matters in such rallies. We never even believed in chairs or sitting arrangements. The success is not counted through chairs. It is calculated through participation, excitement, passion and people’s ownership. You go to any city district, you would find excitement for the Oct 18 rally. The people have announced their verdict. The selected prime minister should resign or face the music.”
Maryam’s first appearance in Karachi
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s vice president Maryam Nawaz is due to reach Karachi on Sunday afternoon to participate in the PDM’s second show.
It would be her first public appearance in the metropolis. From the airport, she will directly go to the Quaid’s mausoleum to offer fateha. Her party has claimed to have set up camps on 17 spots to welcome her.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who made what many believe to be an incendiary speech at the Gujranwala public meeting on Friday over the phone from London, will not address the participants of the Oct 18 rally.
JUI-F promises to make rally a success
The chairs and sitting arrangements may not matter but the number of people does. For today’s rally the question that haunts many is that which one, among the 11 parties, enjoys the most number of supporters and workers who can make a difference. The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) despite almost non-existent electoral mandate in Karachi has every reason to surprise everyone in this area.
JUI-F chief and PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman landed here on Saturday that further pumped up the enthusiasm in the party and local leadership of the right-wing organisation is sure to prove its strength in the city with support from participation of its workers from other parts of Sindh as well.
“The JUI-F made the Gujranwala rally successful and it would do the same here in Karachi,” said party leader Qari Muhammad Usman. “You would see people of every age and ethnicity from our platform. The Oct 18 rally is expected to be much bigger than the one held in Gujranwala. We have mobilised the party cadre a week ago and made healthy preparation for its success.”
Amid ongoing government-opposition row, the future for a common Pakistani remains uncertain. But the leaders at the centre of the whole scene are sure about the achievement of their targets.
“I am frequently arguing that it’s not for our people but for the PM to get panicked,” said PPP chairman Bhutto-Zardari. “He [Imran Khan] has seen his fate. He can no more shift responsibility of his failures on past government for face-saving. People are asking questions and he has nothing to answer. The people are disappointed and this would lead only in fall of Imran Khan and his government.”
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2020