Minister hints at new strategy for dealing with PDM protests

Updated 26 Oct 2020

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Information Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Shibli Faraz addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Taking serious notice of the use of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) platform for raising the slogan of “independent Balochistan”, the federal government may adopt a new strategy to deal with the opposition’s ongoing protest campaign.

This was stated by federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz while talking to Dawn hours after a news conference here on Sunday in which he had blasted the opposition parties for allegedly promoting the “enemies’ narrative” and attacking the state institutions, particularly the country’s armed forces.

Mr Faraz said the government would be having an important meeting on Monday (today) in which they would review the current political situation in the country and make a decision about the future public meetings of the opposition PDM after consultation with all the “stakeholders”.

When asked to identify the “stakeholders,” Mr Faraz said they were “the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, information and national security”.

Shibli accuses opposition of promoting ‘enemies’ narrative’

Responding to a question, he said the issue would be taken up at any of the regular meetings held at the Prime Minister House on the opening day of every week. He said delivering of “anti-Pakistan speeches” should not be allowed at all. In the past, he recalled, they had declared Wali Khan as “a traitor” only for demanding renaming of the North West Frontier Province as “Pakhtoonistan” and here these leaders were openly talking about the country’s break-up.

“No Pakistani can accept the narrative which the opposition PDM has started to present all of a sudden. They are talking about breaking up of Baloch­istan and liberating it... this is basically the agenda of our enemies,” he said.

Calling Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP) leader Awais Noorani a “political pygmy,” the minister regretted that no PDM leader sitting on the stage “condemned” him for talking about “liberation of Balochistan and breaking up of Balochistan” which meant they had “endorsed” his stance.

At the news conference too the minister had criticised Mr Noorani for raising the slogan of “independent Balochistan” and declared that action would be taken “against those promoting the enemies’ narrative”.

It is interesting to note that at the beginning of his news conference, the minister said that he had not got the opportunity to hear the speeches made at the PDM’s public meeting.

Mr Faraz said they would have to look into the situation after emergence of “the element of treason” in the Quetta rally. He said India had been carrying out terrorism in Balochistan and its spy Kulbhu­shan Jadhav had also been arrested from the province. He said the nation and the government would definitely seek a reply from the opposition leaders over their act of raising the Alm-i-Baghawat.

The minister said the state would have to come into action if “lines will be crossed”. “We will liberate the people, the country and Balochistan from these plunderers who looted the national exchequer,” he said, adding that the sole aim of the PDM leaders was to save themselves from the accountability process and for this purpose they could go to any extent. In the past, he said, these opposition leaders had used institutions to protect their corruption.

Mr Faraz lashed out at former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for once again targeting the country’s armed forces in his speech. He said a convicted person who had been declared an offender by the courts was “attacking the state institutions, particularly the Pakistan Army, while sitting abroad”.

APP Adds: Earlier, speaking at a separate news conference, federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed said everyone had to demonstrate unity to counter the Indian and Israeli campaign against Pakistani institutions.

The minister said one should be aware as to why the Indian media had been promoting PDM’s processions, particularly the statements of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2020