Long march useless if opposition doesn’t quit parliament: Fazl

Published March 16, 2021
Maulana Fazlur Rehman addresses a presser in Peshawar on Monday. — White Star
Maulana Fazlur Rehman addresses a presser in Peshawar on Monday. — White Star

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said the opposition’s long march against the government without quitting parliament will be a futile exercise.

“In my opinion, the long march will be ineffective and futile if we [PDM] do not tender resignations from parliament,” he told a news conference here at the JUI-F secretariat on Monday.

Mr Fazl said heads of the opposition alliance’s component parties would meet in Islamabad on Tuesday to develop a strategy for the long march against the government scheduled to start on March 26.

He said en masse resignations from assemblies were on the agenda of that meeting in which the alliance would make a unanimous decision about it.

The PDM chief, who also heads the JUI-F, said the entire nation should play its role in the long march.

PDM chief refuses to disclose venue and duration of anti-govt sit-in

Asked whether the PDM’s sit-in in Islamabad will last one day or longer, he said the opposition alliance would decide about that later.

Mr Fazl declined to disclose the venue of the sit-in.

He said the component parties of the PDM would remain united.

“The long march will be different from the Azadi March, which was held against the PTI government in Oct 2019. The Azadi March was concluded after reaching an agreement with … but this time around, we (PDM) won’t involve them,” he said, adding that the opposition will not disclose the venue and duration of the long march.

The PDM chief said the defeat of Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the opposition alliance’s candidate for the office of the Senate deputy chairman in the recent elections, would come under discussion in the Tuesday meeting.

“We will ask our (JUI-F) allies why Maulana Haideri obtained fewer votes than those of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was also the PDM candidate for the office of the Senate chairman,” he said, adding that the opposition had suffered an upset when the vote of no-confidence was tabled against Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

Mr Fazl said the election for the Senate chairman and deputy chairman and installation of hidden cameras at polling booth in the house fully exposed the role of the security establishment.

He said the establishment intentionally gave a very clear message to the government that its (PTI) candidate wouldn’t win the Senate seat from the National Assembly despite having a majority.

“And the same message was conveyed to the opposition that despite clear majority, its (PDM) candidates can’t win election for the offices of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman,” he said, adding that Senate elections were fully engineered.

Without naming Mirza Afridi, the PDM chief claimed that a Rs2 billion loan defaulter was allowed to contest the election for the Senate deputy chairman’s office.

He also said valid votes were rejected in the Senate chairman elections and the buck was being passed to the Supreme Court and high court.

Mr Fazl wondered who had installed hidden cameras at the polling booth.

“Now, courts are the last hope in this situation,” he said.

The PDM chief criticised the National Accountability Bureau for approaching the Lahore High Court for the cancellation of the bail of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice-president Maryam Nawaz over the allegation of campaigning against state institutions.

He said the statement of the anti-corruption watchdog proved that the NAB was a puppet body, which was dancing to the tune of the powerful institutions.

“The NAB should not become a spokesperson for other institutions.”

Mr Fazl said on one hand, the NAB claimed that it was carrying out accountability to end corruption but on the other, it was trying to become a spokesperson for other institutions.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2021

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