LAHORE: As the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) could not hold significant demonstrations across the country on Friday against the PTI government’s manhandling of its workers during the Multan rally, the 11-party opposition alliance announced that a decision on resigning from the national and provincial assemblies as well as long march on Islamabad would be finalised in its Dec 8 meeting in the federal capital, which would also be attended by deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif from London via video link.
“The PDM huddle on Dec 8 will chalk out its strategy regarding resignations from assemblies and long march [on Islamabad] to oust the selected PTI regime,” PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn on Friday.
In reply to a question whether the PML-N, especially Maryam Nawaz, insisted on announcing the date for resignations from the assemblies at PDM’s Dec 13 Lahore rally, she said: “Any such decision will be taken on the PDM platform after evolving a consensus among all 11 parties [of the opposition alliance].”
Opposition alliance’s Dec 8 meeting will be attended by Nawaz from London via video link
During a meeting between PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and vice president Maryam Nawaz on Thursday in Model Town, both issues (resignations and long march) came under discussion.
According to sources, Maryam pressed on adopting an aggressive stance on resignations, saying the PDM after Lahore rally should immediately use this option and no expediency be shown.
Shehbaz Sharif, who had recently advocated for a ‘national dialogue’ among institutions, however, advised against any hasty decision in this regard.
Addressing a protest rally in Lahore’s Sherakot on Friday, former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq said that the opposition should have followed JUI-F chief Mualana Fazlur Rehman’s advice not to take oath of assemblies.
At that time, both Nawaz and Shehbaz had paid no heed to this suggestion and preferred launching the opposition’s struggle on parliament’s platform.
The hawkish group in the PML-N has already advocated for resigning from the assemblies to stop the PTI government from holding the Senate elections scheduled for March next year.
PML-N senior leader Khawaja Asif had said: “When this struggle [of the PDM] reaches its peak, our 84 MNAs will resign from the National Assembly and then we will see how the Senate polls are held.”
Interestingly, the PDM’s anti-government campaign has entered third month, but neither the PPP and JUI-F nor other main players of the alliance have shown any intention to resign from the assemblies. Maulana Fazl is also president of the PDM.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had already announced that his government would hold by-polls if the opposition resigned from the assemblies.
Despite Maulana Fazl’s announcement at the Multan rally that a countrywide protest would be held on Dec 4 and 6 against the torture of PDM workers, no significant rally was held on Friday.
PML-N held rallies in Lahore and Faisalabad in connection with the PDM’s forthcoming public meeting in Lahore.
“PML-N being host of the Lahore rally is mobilising its workers. Holding Multan episode-specific protests on two successive days amounts to making the workers tired,” a party leader told Dawn.
“PDM’s main concern is Dec 13 Lahore rally and it is utilising all its energies in this regard. Maryam Nawaz has planned to hold two mini rallies in Lahore on Dec 7 and 10 to build up momentum for Dec 13 PDM power show,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami dispelled the impression that it might join the PDM for its struggle against the government. “We have no such plans. We have launched a solo struggle against the PTI government which in fact is a continuation of PPP and PML-N regimes,” JI spokesperson Qaisar Sharif told Dawn.
He said the second phase of JI’s anti-government campaign would begin from Dec 25 with a rally in Gujranwala. “We provide an alternative leadership to steer the country out of crises,” he added.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2020