PDM stages second tour de force in Karachi

Updated 19 Oct 2020

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KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other leaders waving to their supporters at the PDM public meeting at Bagh-i-Jinnah on Sunday.—Online
KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other leaders waving to their supporters at the PDM public meeting at Bagh-i-Jinnah on Sunday.—Online
PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, JUI-F chairperson Fazlur Rehman and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz seated on a stage set up at Karachi's Bagh-i-Jinnah, the venue of PDM's second rally. — Photo courtesy Twitter
PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, JUI-F chairperson Fazlur Rehman and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz seated on a stage set up at Karachi's Bagh-i-Jinnah, the venue of PDM's second rally. — Photo courtesy Twitter

• Maryam taunts Imran, tells ‘kids’ to stay away from fight between ‘elders’
• Bilawal says people’s anger would sweep away govt
• Truth commission demanded to set course of future democracy

KARACHI: Just a day after Imran Khan warned that he would get “tougher” with opposition parties and declared to start making all-out efforts to bring Nawaz Sharif back to Pak­istan, the 11-party anti-government Pakistan Demo­cratic Movement (PDM) alliance stuck to its aggressive tone and staged a massive power show in Karachi on Sunday with Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz saying their campaign was not against Imran Khan and he should stay away from the “fight between big guns”.

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari urged the prime minister to take heed from “past dictators” while Jamiat-Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in a snide remark targeted at the prime minister urged the army chief to maintain a distance from “foolish friends”.

At a jam-packed Bagh-i-Jinnah in the shadow of the Quaid’s mausoleum, the leaders of the opposition parties appeared unimpressed with the warning of the PM and vowed that their struggle would continue till the fall of Imran Khan’s government.

The rally was the second in a series as the PDM had staged its maiden power show in Gujranwala on Fri­day. But while the earlier rally was mostly a PML-N show, Sunday’s event coincided with the 13th anniversary of the Oct 18, 2007 attack on the homecoming procession of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi that killed more than 200 people, making the event largely a PPP tour de force.

The tone for the rally was set by Maryam Nawaz well before she landed in Karachi when leaving her residence in Lahore she talked to media and shared her thoughts while reacting to the recent speech of PM Imran.

“We are not afraid of prisons as we (she and her father) haven’t served jail terms earlier in a VIP manner,” she said. “Why Imran Khan is so worried? Mian Sahib didn’t address him in his speech. It’s not against him. The kids should stay away from the fight of elders. His speech and anger suggested that he has already lost the battle. He’s panicked and frustrated. It would only end with the fall of his government.”

She maintained the same tone at the Karachi rally where she counted the number of “blunders, corruption and incompetence of the Imran Khan government.” She said Mr Khan had admitted that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was with him and referred to the list of PTI government’s “achievements” in two years.

‘We salute our jawans’

Ms Nawaz sent mixed messages to the establishment, especially compared to her father’s confrontational tone in Gujranwala.

“Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz salute our jawans and officers. Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz salute martyrs of our forces. Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz salute those parents who sacrifice their loved ones for the security of this motherland. It [movement of the opposition] is not against the forces. It’s our force. It’s force of every Pakistani. But yes. If anyone comes and bulldozes mandate of people under his boots than he would be criticised and resisted,” she said.

Calling the PM a “coward”, she accused him of using the armed forces for his face-saving and declaring opponents as traitors only to save his skin and hide incompetence.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said PM Imran Khan and his government would face the same fate as that of “past dictators”.

“Imran Khan should remember the past dictators. He should remember their life and fate. Your fate would not be different from them. You can never suppress people’s voice for long. The people’s anger would sweep away the government and its foundations.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari again warned the government of strong reaction from his party not only in the case of the 18th Amendment’s rollback and warned the government against trying to arrest leaders of the opposition and stop its movement through force.

“You [PM Imran Khan] only want positive news and ban all others,” he said. “But how can you ban the cries of hungry children? How would you ban the voice of unemployed youngsters? How would you ban the voice of free and fair media? How would you ban the voice of political and democratic workers? And how would you ban the anger of every Pakistani which is heading to you? It’s time for the puppet PM to get panicked.”

Threats and offers

PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman claimed to have received threats and offers when he, with leaders of other parties, was planning to bring all “democratic political forces under the PDM”.

“We were asked to stay away from such movement,” he said. “We were threatened and also made offers. But we neither cared about the threats and offers. We made it clear to every segment that we don’t accept this puppet government. We would launch the movement at any cost.”

In a jibe, the maulana addressed Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the crowd burst into roars of laughter when he said: “Bajwa Sahib, I respect you so much. But please try to avoid these foolish [PM Imran Khan] friends. They are putting blame on you.”

He called PM Imran Khan “seller of Kashmir” who the JUI-F chief said had compromised over the disputed territory only under pressure from Indian Prime Minister Modi. He said the PTI government backed out from Pakistan’s historic narrative and stand on Kashmir.

“We believe that the Constitution of Pakistan is a social contract which has [been] well-knitted by all the segments of society,” Maulana Fazl said.

“The same Constitution protects every citizen’s rights and defines jobs of every institution. If we follow the Constitution it would lead to genuine leadership fizzling out puppet leaderships and despite all hardships, the challenges could be overcome.”

Earlier the rally was also addressed by Mahmood Khan Achakzai of Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Akhtar Mengal of Balochistan National Party, MNA Mohsin Khan Dawar from the erstwhile tribal areas and leaders of other parties.

Mr Dawar in his speech demanded truth commission to probe into allegations against the political leaders as well as dictators to set the course of future democracy and avoid further intervention from non-democratic forces. The commission, he said, would also identify the people among the political leadership who had defied and cheated democracy for personal gains.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2020