Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday said recent incidents of terrorism in the country showed that the government's claims of having established peace were "wrong".
He was addressing what was the latest in a series of anti-government rallies planned by the PDM. Hosted by JUI-F, the rally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Bannu district was attended by leaders of PDM constituent parties, but neither PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz nor PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari were present.
In his speech, Rehman accused the government of having "ruined" peace and the country's economy, and claimed that there was no system in the tribal areas.
"Claims were made that we have defeated terrorism, that there is peace in the country now.
"I say if the armed forces have given sacrifices against terrorism, then we have too and so has the nation. And if terrorism is [still] present then your claims were wrong," the JUI-F leader told the crowd.
He questioned why the armed forces were "still present" in the tribal areas. "Is terrorism not being ended so there is a justification for the army to stay there?" he asked.
Rehman alleged that the army was "spread everywhere in Balochistan", saying this was cited as a security requirement.
"I want to say in clear words that until the army remains in Pakistan's civilian areas, peace cannot be established," he added.
"If I cannot interfere in the matters of the army then the army should also not interfere in politics."
Condemning the murder of Hazara coal miners in Balochistan, he said terrorists were roaming "free to murder anyone".
Rehman also said he was asked to "surrender" to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and added: "I said it was Gen Niazi who surrendered."
The JUI-F leader said the PDM had shown the nation "the path of freedom and democracy". He added that when the alliance was deciding its basic manifesto and objectives, it first stressed the need to implement the Constitution's Islamic clauses and "introduce Pakistan as an Islamic state".
JUI-F central general secretary Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri accused the government of having donned the "chadar of dictatorship".
He alleged that the government was defaming people through the NAB in the name of accountability.
"This government is selected, fake and incompetent," he said, accusing the rulers of having "sold Kashmir".
Prior to today's rally, a luncheon was organised for PDM's central and provincial leadership at the residence of JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani. Besides Rehman, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Ahsan Iqbal, Ameer Muqam and other leaders had lunch there before heading to the rally venue.
Earlier, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal while addressing the rally hit out at the government over what he termed a "failed" economy and alleged unrest in the country.
He said while suicide bombings were an everyday occurrence in 2013, the PML-N had not only ended terrorism but also reinvigorated businesses, eliminated load-shedding and "turned darkness to light".
Iqbal also credited the PML-N with starting the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project in "the Pakistan where nobody would bring in even a dollar".
"If our government wasn't robbed in 2018 and with Maulana Fazlur Rehman sahib being a part of the government, then CPEC would today be producing hundreds of thousands of jobs," he claimed.
"By bringing this inept and selected [prime minister], the economy that was growing by 5.75 per cent was thrown down to -0.4pc."
Iqbal said there was "unrest across the country" and members of the Hazara community were sitting on the road in Quetta protesting the murder of coal miners along with their coffins. "But Imran Khan is stubbornly sitting in Islamabad; he couldn't be bothered to soothe their wounds because he was not elected but selected, and is now rejected," he alleged.
"If he worried about the people he would go to the Hazaras to condole with them, but his adviser went to the people whose relatives' coffins are lying on the road and asked 'what benefit will you give to Imran Khan if he visits you,'" the PML-N leader said, referring to the visit of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari to Quetta.
"They do bargaining of benefit and loss even for people's bodies. What do they know about humanity?" he said, adding that Pakistan had fallen behind its South Asian neighbours in economic growth.
"How much farther back do we have to go? Today we have to decide that the fate of Pakistan is not poverty, unemployment and injustice."
The PML-N leader said a "joke" had been made out of the Pakistani state in the last 73 years. "The Quaid-i-Azam had said this state would succeed if its system is run by its people, but this state's system has been snatched from the people," he added.