PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday once again lashed out at the PTI government over inflation and allegedly suppressing the opposition, saying the day the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties decided to hand in their resignations would be the government's last day.
While addressing a large PDM rally in Bahawalpur hosted by the PML-N, she posed the question to the audience whether the opposition parties should resign in order to mount pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan's government.
"Bahawalpur has given its verdict; this government's days are numbered. So should [we] keep sitting in these sham assemblies or resign?" she asked the crowd, who largely responded with "resign!".
"Remember, this government will be finished the day PDM tenders resignations," she said. Although PDM constituent parties claim to have received the resignations of all opposition lawmakers in the national and provincial assemblies, the alliance has not yet decided about handing in the resignations formally.
Addressing PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam asked what would happen if "I turn the direction of this sea of Bahawalpur's" supporters towards Islamabad. In such a scenario, she said, the prime minister will not be able to "hide" from the public.
She said the premier should be forced to go home as soon as possible because, she claimed, the prices of essential commodities had increased many folds when compared with the PML-N's tenure and people could not afford to pay utility bills and medicines.
The PML-N leader said Punjab "used to be taunted that it does not stand against oppression" but said that had now changed.
"Not only has Punjab risen [now], but it is fully ready to reclaim its rights. [...] The establishment, selectors and selected are all seeing that the people of Punjab have stood up," she added, asking the audience whether they were ready to "snatch" their rights and vote.
Mocking the PTI signature slogan of 'tabdeeli' (change), Maryam questioned whether the alleged "storm of inflation", incompetence, "selling off Kashmir" and theft of food products could be termed tabdeeli.
She said despite numerous alleged corruption scandals, Prime Minister Imran stated that "the army knows I am not corrupt", and accused the premier of preventing the foreign funding case against the PTI from proceeding in the Election Commission of Pakistan.
"Now the army too will say you (PM Imran) have done corruption with a lot of honesty," she added.
Pointing to Rana Sanaullah who was standing next to her, Maryam said the prime minister in an interview had expressed ignorance about whether the narcotics case instituted against the PML-N leader was true or false.
"So he did not know if [the case against] Rana Sanaullah was true or false, but he can't see such huge evidence regarding [retired Lt] Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa," she alleged, before joining the crowd in chanting slogans of "pizza! pizza!".
She ended her speech by asking the crowd whether they would "march towards Islamabad" if she gave the call for a long march.
Earlier, Maryam, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, had led a caravan from the house of PML-N leader Sauj Majeed, reaching the venue of the rally at Seraiki Chowk after several hours on the road.
PM doesn't have backing of people: Fazl
Addressing the rally, PDM president Rehman said Prime Minister Imran's statement that he had the backing of the army was an "admission that he does not have the backing of the people".
"I ask our army leadership with respect; if you are backing this illegitimate, incompetent government then make your position clear so that if we run a movement, its direction will be towards you," he said.
He said the PDM was struggling to restore a "free democratic environment" in Pakistan and all opposition parties were united on its platform.
Rehman said the government members were awaiting news of differences within the PDM after its meeting earlier this week, but were left "mourning" after the opposition leaders "spoke with one voice".
"We will keep making minor changes to our policies; sometimes we will show our cards, sometimes we will hide them and you will keep getting jealous," he added, addressing the government.
He accused the government of having failed to control inflation and stalling CPEC projects, saying the national growth rate had gone negative due to the its "incompetence".
Terming the government as "traders of Kashmir", Rehman announced that the PDM will hold rallies in all major cities to express solidarity with the residents of Indian-occupied Kashmir on February 5.
Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was representing the PPP at the rally, said the charter signed by PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Maryam, Rehman and other PDM leaders, once implemented will end the problems faced by the public.
He said the solution of issues faced by the residents of Bahawalpur and other south Punjab cities lay in them being given their own province and legislature.
Gilani said the federal government had suggested that the secretariat of a future south Punjab province would either be in Multan or Bahawalpur but stressed that "We have asked for the province, not the secretariat."
Awami National Party's Mian Iftikhar Hussain in his speech said the government's days were "numbered".
He said Prime Minister Imran undermined the PDM but even then its voice was censored and suppressed. "Why do you censor us? Because you are scared? We will fight you on the ground and in the assembly; the end of oppression is near," he added.
On Saturday, police had arrested some workers of the opposition parties, booked seven PDM leaders in cases and served warning notices on eight PML-N leaders, asking them to refrain from holding the rally today.
In Hasilpur and Ahmedpur East tehsils, cases were registered against dozens of opposition parties’ workers.
Police sprung into action after the district administration refused to allow the PDM to organise its scheduled rally in the city.