As PDM deadline for govt to quit passes, Bilawal says opposition 'must now force removal of puppets'

Published January 31, 2021
PML-N's Maryam Nawaz, PPP's Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman attend a PDM rally in Peshawar on Nov 22. — AFP/File
PML-N's Maryam Nawaz, PPP's Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman attend a PDM rally in Peshawar on Nov 22. — AFP/File

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday called upon the joint opposition to "force the removal of puppets", after the January 31 deadline set by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for Prime Minister Imran Khan to quit passed without any signs of the government retreating.

"The selected PM has failed to resign by the deadline set by PDM," Bilawal said in a series of tweets, adding that the opposition alliance had given "this illegitimate regime the opportunity to step aside respectfully and allow for a transition to democracy with free, fair and transparent elections".

He said the Pakistani people faced historic poverty, unemployment and inflation because the incumbent government had been "forced on them".

Analyse: The PDM’s predicament

"The joint opposition must now force the removal of puppets," he wrote, emphasising that the PPP believed in relying on democratic tactics and that sustained joint efforts inside and outside the parliament would "ultimately succeed" in sending the government home.

Bilawal said the plan of staging a long march against the government and moving a no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran will "hopefully be discussed" in the next PDM meeting.

In a reference to the government's plan of introducing a constitutional amendment for open ballot in the upcoming Senate polls, the PPP chairman said the government's "desperation" was clear as it was "trying to change rules to rig Senate elections because they can see their defeat".

"God-willing, Senate elections will show [that the] government is on shaky ground," he added.

Bilawal also used the occasion to reiterate that the establishment "must leave political battles to the politicians now or risk being drawn into controversies".

"Only a government chosen by the people can deliver for the people," he concluded.

After a meeting of the leadership of its member parties, the PDM had given a deadline to Prime Minister Imran to step down by January 31, with the warning that a march on Islamabad would otherwise result in the ouster of the PTI government.

“In case the government does not step down, the date of the long march will be announced on Feb 1. We ask the people of Pakistan to start preparations for the long march from today,” PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had told a presser after presiding over the meeting. The government had swiftly rejected the deadline.

The PDM constituent parties have also collected the resignations of their lawmakers in the national and provincial assemblies, but have decided against submitting them for now. The parties have also decided to jointly contest the Senate elections — scheduled for March — and the upcoming by-polls.

Earlier this week, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had said the opposition would submit its resignations from the assemblies at an appropriate time and with the consensus of the 10-party PDM.

“Resignations will be submitted and long march will take place,” she told reporters outside the Parliament House building after attending a meeting of the PML-N parliamentary party.

Asked about the PPP’s proposal of using the option of a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, Maryam quoted Bilawal as saying that he would explain his proposal before the PDM leadership and said the matter would now be discussed at the opposition alliance’s platform.

During the PML-N meeting, a number of participants declared the PPP’s proposal of no-trust motion “impracticable”, sources had told Dawn.

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