ISLAMABAD: President of the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Monday announced that they had decided to launch a “mass contact campaign with full force” after Eidul Fitr next month for which the strategy would be finalised soon in a meeting of the heads of component parties of the alliance.
Talking to reporters after attending a meeting of the PDM Steering Committee, the Maulana said the PDM was determined to continue its struggle to get the nation rid of the present government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and ensure free and fair elections in the country.
The Maulana, who is also head of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), once again asked the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) to reconsider their decision of leaving the alliance, saying their doors were still open for them “if the two parties admit their mistake and accept the majority decision as per democratic norms”.
The Maulana hinted that he was in contact with the PPP leadership, but preferred not to disclose the details. “It seems that you have some knowledge,” the Maulana said smilingly to a reporter who had asked if he was in contact with the PPP leadership, including Asif Zardari.
The PDM chief declined to comment on the statements issued by some PPP leaders against the alliance and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
When the PDM’s Steering Committee was in session, PPP’s Faisal Karim Kundi issued a statement, saying that “hopefully, the PDM meeting will also review (PML-N vice president) Maryam Nawaz’s statement that the PML-N does not want to dislodge the puppet government of Imran Khan”.
“Will the PDM meeting today also announce the strategy to let this puppet government complete five-year term?” Mr Kundi had stated.
When a reporter drew the attention of the PDM leaders to Mr Kundi’s statement, the Maulana as well as PML-N’s senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi refused to make any comment, saying they would not like to respond to unauthentic statements.
“Where is such a statement (from Maryam Nawaz)? Can you show me?” asked the Maulana even before the reporter could complete his question.
When another reporter repeated the allegation that PML-N’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif had managed to flee the country despite conviction under a deal, the JUI-F chief simply it was an “old issue”.
The Maulana lashed out at the economic policies of the government and said the inertia that existed in the country’s economy today would continue in the years to come.
In their next meeting the heads of parties in the PDM would also discuss a strategy after consultations with experts on ways to bring the country out of the present economic mess, said the Maulana.
The PDM chief also criticised the government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation, alleging that the government had not spent a single penny to procure vaccines that were available in the country now.
He said an insufficient quantity of vaccine had reached Pakistan which, he feared, would only be given to the elite and ruling classes of the country.
Without naming any institution, the JUI-F chief said that “Pakistani institutions” were committing excesses against small traders along the borders of Iran and Afghanistan. Without providing any details, he said the “institutions” were “committing violence and even firing bullets” on the traders.
This was the second meeting of the PDM after withdrawal of the PPP and ANP from the alliance earlier this month. The alliance now comprises eight parties.
Both the PPP and the ANP had formally announced their decisions to quit the PDM in reaction to the show-cause notices issued to them for nominating Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate in alleged violation of the unanimous decision of the PDM which had decided to give the office to the PML-N.
The PDM, which came into existence during a multi-party conference of 10 opposition parties in Islamabad in September last year, had organised public meetings in almost all the major cities of the country. However, after the public meeting in Lahore on December 13, the PDM did not announce the second phase of their campaign and actively participated in by-elections on National Assembly seats and the Senate poll.
Earlier on Monday, PPP’s Faisal Kundi while quoting a TV interview of Maryam Nawaz’s said it had now become clear as to “who is providing credit to this government and who does not want to resign and who had politicised the issue of resignations”. He said things had become clear why the PPP and the ANP had been alienated from the PDM.
Mr Kundi said the PPP was the first to implement whatever strategy was suggested by the PDM. “Those who accuse the PPP of (forging) a deal, first should tell the people that it was PPP’s strategy to fight this puppet government on every front, whether in the by-elections or the Senate elections,” he said.
Mr Kundi said the parties that were insisting on en masse resignations before would now decide to resign from the assemblies as the PPP and the ANP were no longer part of the alliance. “I hope the resignation strategy and date for a long march will also be announced in the PDM meeting.”
Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021