LAHORE: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) announced on Monday that it would hold its Lahore rally as per plan on Dec 13 where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will make his ‘decisive’ speech.
“The Dec 13 rally will be held at all costs and people from across the country will participate in it, while Nawaz Sharif will deliver his decisive speech on the occasion,” PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah announced at a news conference here.
Flanked by PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira and other leaders of the PDM, he said it would be a ‘do or die’ event, but a peaceful effort to oust the government.
Talking to Dawn later, Mr Sanaullah said mainstream opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — had reached a consensus about resigning from the National Assembly in order to push the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insatf (PTI) government for a fresh election.
Kaira says PPP leadership will take final decision
“The opposition will resign from the National Assembly (in the first phase) and not let the Imran Khan government hold by-polls. We want new free and fair elections and there will be no compromise on this,” he said.
To a question about resignations from provincial assemblies, Mr Sanaullah said the PPP had reservations regarding resigning from the provincial assemblies along with the National Assembly. “Therefore, the PDM may not resign from the provincial assemblies initially,” he said.
“Nawaz Sharif has spoken to PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and reached a consensus regarding resignations from the NA. The other leaders of the alliance have also been taken into confidence,” Mr Sanaullah said and added that an announcement in this regard would be made after Tuesday’s PDM huddle.
During the press conference and his talk with some TV channels, Mr Kaira, however, remained non-committal over the resignation issue and said the top PPP leadership would take the final decision.
About the Lahore show, Mr Kaira said: “The situation will worsen only if the government attempted to create hurdles in the holding of the public meeting and the prime minister will be held responsible for the consequences.”
He stressed the venue, Minar-i-Pakistan, for the show would not be changed and the PDM leadership, along with the organising committee, would visit it on Dec 11 to make final arrangements.
Hundreds of thousands of people would show their no-trust in the ‘incompetent’ government and seek respect for their vote, he added.
Mr Sanaullah told a questioner that at least 500 workers would be maintaining security and overseeing other arrangements at the rally venue. These workers, he said, might be given some identity like a specific cap, uniform, badge, etc. These measures, he added, should not be misconstrued as an attempt to raise a uniformed force.
JUI-F’s Maulana Safiullah said his party’s wing Ansarul Islam was not a militant wing and it had been mainly tasked with maintaining discipline during various events of the party, including its “million marches”.
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, who on Monday held corner meetings in different constituencies of Lahore to mobilise party workers for the PMD’s power show at Minar-i-Pakistan, has also hinted at resignations from the assemblies. At the same time Ms Nawaz gave a warning to those legislators who would not comply with the direction of the leadership (to tender their resignation) that their houses would be surrounded by party workers.
To a question about Ms Nawaz’s fear (that some legislators may not resign), Mr Sanaullah said: “Such legislators’ number cannot be in double figure and the party is not much bothered about this. A majority of our lawmakers will follow Mr Sharif’s direction.”
About going for the long march on Islamabad option, Mr Sanaullah said: “Weather of January is not favourable for this.”
During her visit to the constituencies where her party candidates were elected in 2018 polls, Ms Nawaz took the pledge from the workers to come to the Dec 13 public meeting at Minar-i-Pakistan which she termed a “do and die act”.
Ms Nawaz expressed her delight seeing the charged workers saying: “Imran Khan should see today is not Dec 13 but the whole Lahore has come out to give a verdict against him.”
“I have named Imran Khan ‘Tabedar Khan’(obedient Khan). Imran Khan said that he would not stop this rally because he knows this cannot be stopped,” she said and added the people would have to get rid of the ‘fake government’.
A party worker got good thrashing from the security of Ms Nawaz for trying to touch her.
Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also visited his constituency (old city) here first and mobilised the workers for the Dec 13 power show.
Meanwhile, the Lahore police have booked 18 leaders, including Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Saad Rafique, Javed Latif, Rana Mashhood, Mehr Ishtiaq and Attaullah Tarar and 500 workers violating Covid-19 SOPs during a rally.
On the other hand, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar chaired a meeting of the apex committee which was attended by Corps Commander Lahore Lt Gen Majid Ehsan, GOC 10-Division Maj Gen Mohammad Aneeq-ur-Rehman Malik, DG Rangers Punjab Maj Gen Mohammad Amir Majeed and high ranking military officials. Provincial ministers, the chief secretary, the IG police and medical experts also attended the meeting.
The meeting resolved strict compliance of facemasks at public places and offices and legal action will be initiated in case of any violation. It also dilated upon the proposal of imposing fines over SOPs’ violation at public places and decided to implement closure-timings of markets and bazaars.
Talking to reporters, CM Buzdar said the opposition should realise that coronavirus was spreading. “We will take action against the opposition for violating the law (Covid-19 SOPs),” he warned.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2020