RAHIM YAR KHAN / MULTAN: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in an impressive Bahawalpur show on Sunday evening called the opposition’s drive against Imran Khan-led PTI government ‘jihad’ and announced that stepping back from it would be a ‘major sin’.
“We will show our cards at the right time which will leave the government shell-shocked,” PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman told a responsive crowd at Seraiki Chowk. PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, PPP leader Yousaf Raza Gillani and other leaders of the 10-party alliance also spoke.
Apparently overwhelmed by the turnout, Ms Nawaz said: “What will happen if I ask these people to march on Islamabad? In that case the puppet PM will have no place to hide.”
Maulana Fazl also said this was a gigantic show where people had expressed their no-confidence in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government. Mr Gillani dared PTI ministers to see the “sea of people” in Bahawalpur before calling the PDM show flop.
Fazl says no change in stance; Maryam presses for resignations
While the Maulana said there could be some changes in the PDM plan to dislodge the government, Ms Nawaz pressed for resignations from parliament claiming: “The day the PDM lawmakers resign, it will be the final day of the PTI government.”
Earlier, the JUI-F chief while talking to the media in Multan said the PDM was intact and “changing strategy does not mean that it has deviated from its stance. Media is misleading the masses by raising speculations in connection with the unity among the PDM’s components. The PDM is intact and there is no change in our stance. However, whenever there is any change in the strategy, media portrays it as if there is any change in the PDM stand,” he said.
He said the decision about resignations had not been cancelled. “We have given the deadline of January 31 for the resignation (of PM Khan) and any further strategy will be devised after the deadline is over and we will share it with you people (media). The new strategy, including submission of resignations and long march will be devised with the consultation of lawyers and the leadership of the PDM member parties,” he said.
He alleged that Islamabad was under illegal occupation and the PDM was going there with the mandate of the people to end this illegal occupation.
To build pressure on the government, Maulana Fazl said the PDM would stage a sit-in outside the ECP offices in Islamabad on Jan 19 to make it decide the PTI foreign funding case that had been pending for past six years; take out ‘Israel not acceptable’ rally in Karachi on Jan 21 and hold rallies on Kashmir Day on Feb 5.
Ms Nawaz said Punjab had risen to the challenge and was ready to get back its right that was ‘stolen’ in 2018. She asked the crowd to let her know if they wanted PDM parties to resign and got a positive reply from the crowd.
Criticising the government on economic front, the PML-N leader said the PTI government had doubled Pakistan’s debt in two and a half years.
“The PM takes Rs250,000 as salary but runs a 300-marla house and then says he is not corrupt,” she said and raised questions over the controversial Billion Tree Tsunami project. She said two and a half years after assuming the power, the prime minister admitted that he did not know how the government worked. “The people of the country are fed up from unemployment and inflation and cannot purchase chicken and vegetables. The prices of gas and electricity are increasing day by day. The whole money is going into their pockets.”
In his brief speech, former prime minister and PPP leader Gillani said that the PTI government had “given us a lollypop of southern Punjab province but divided it into Multan and Bahawalpur.”
He said the PDM was united for strengthening of the parliament.
Awami National Party leader Mian Iftikhar said days of the Imran-led government were numbered and his rule was about to end. “Why you censor us on the media,” he asked the government as TV channels did not air his and ex-PM Gillani’s speech.
The ANP stalwart also said that the ‘oppressors’ would be defeated and the PDM movement would emerge victorious.
Before the main rally, Ms Nawaz addressed party workers at the residence of former provincial minister Iqbal Channar and asked them to follow her to Seraiki Chowk.
PDM convener Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PPP leaders Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and Makhdoom Syed Ahmed Mehmood reached Bahawalpur on Sunday while Maryam had reached there on Saturday night. Bahawalpur district administration and police had blocked different roads of the city. PML-N divisional president Khalid Shaheen said their vehicles were stopped at Taranda Mohammad Pannah, Channi Goth and Ahmedpur East by the police.
Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2021