Balochistan govt urges PDM to delay Quetta rally in light of 'security threat'

23 Oct 2020

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Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani speaks to media. — DawnNewsTV/File
Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani speaks to media. — DawnNewsTV/File

Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani on Friday urged the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to delay its upcoming public meeting in Quetta citing a security threat alert issued by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta).

PDM, an anti-government alliance of 11 opposition parties, is scheduled to hold its third power show in Quetta on October 25. The alliance had initially announced its first public meeting in Quetta on October 11 but there was a change of plans with the movement kicking off with a rally in Gujranwala on October 16.

The second rally under the PDM banner was held in Karachi on October 18.

Addressing a press conference in Quetta today, Shahwani noted that the PDM had already delayed its Quetta rally at least once and urged the alliance to do so again in the "wider interest of the public" given the threat alert issued by Nacta. He did not elaborate on the nature of the security threat.

"Later, when this threat has been eradicated or when the planners and masterminds are arrested [...] Once Nacta issues a clearance, they (PDM) can hold a rally. This will be better as they will get more time to prepare," he said, and added: "The Balochistan government did not have a problem in the past, nor does it have one now."

Shahwani promised that the Balochistan government would not place containers to block routes or create any other hindrances.

Instead, he said, the Balochistan government had provided bulletproof vehicles to the PDM leadership and will also provide hand sanitisers and masks to people attending the rally to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"Our intention is based on democratic norms. If PDM leaders really [care about] democratic norms, Constitution, peace and security and masses' betterment, and if they call themselves pro-public, then they should show a sense of responsibility and delay this rally for now in the wider interest of the public," Shahwani said.

The PDM is an alliance of 11 political parties, formed after the opposition's multiparty conference on September 20, that seeks the PTI government's ouster by launching a three-phased anti-government movement under an "action plan" starting from this month with countrywide public meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies in December and a "decisive long march" towards Islamabad in January 2021.

The protest campaign comes at a time when Pakistan is experiencing an economic crisis, with inflation touching double digits and negative growth.

The PDM, among its other demands, also seeks an end to the military's alleged interference in politics.