PDM vows to focus on 'transparent elections' in first high-level meeting since May

Published August 11, 2021
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif address a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif address a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) president and chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday said the opposition alliance had decided to focus "all its attention and energies" on ensuring that transparent elections were held in the country.

Talking to the media in Islamabad after the PDM's first high-level meeting since May, Rehman said the opposition party leaders, including PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Vice President Maryam Nawaz who participated via video link, had analysed in detail the overall situation in the country as well as internal and foreign matters.

The PDM meeting "condemned in the strongest words the worst inflation" in the country, he said, adding that the PTI government had "broken records of inflation, unemployment and oppression".

"The lives of the public have been made impossible. The last drop of blood is being drained from the people for oppressive taxes and fulfilling the conditions of the IMF (International Monetary Fund)."

To deal with the situation, the PDM's steering committee will meet in Islamabad on August 21 after the parties in the alliance discuss the recommendations made during today's meeting so they can be given a "practical shape", Rehman said.

The PDM leadership will then hold a meeting on Aug 28 in Karachi to discuss the recommendations agreed upon by the steering committee and make decisions. "A splendid and unparalleled rally organised by PDM will be held on Aug 29 in Karachi," Rehman announced.

'Very serious internal and external dangers'

The meeting agreed that Pakistan was facing "very serious internal and external dangers" and the "fake" PTI government was facing defeat on all fronts, he said, adding that the country was also facing the "worst isolation internationally".

Referring to the recent United Nations Security Council session on the situation in Afghanistan in which Pakistan was denied the opportunity to address the council, the PDM president said not only had the country's interest been harmed but its honour had also been "destroyed".

He said the PDM "supports in very clear words" a political solution through negotiation to the conflict in Afghanistan. "Pakistan wants a political and stable Afghanistan," he stressed.

Rehman said the meeting demanded that the opposition be taken into confidence regarding the Afghan situation because an "important and concrete part of the parliament is not aware of the situation because facts are being hidden from them".

'Constitutional governance has disappeared'

The PDM president claimed that "constitutional governance in the country has [disappeared] and constitutional institutions have been suspended.

"Freedom of expression has been throttled. Worst dictatorial [and] black-handed tactics have been imposed on the media. Journalists are being attacked," he said, adding that the meeting expressed serious concern over the situation and condemned it.

He reiterated the PDM's basic objectives which he said included ensuring that all institutions "fulfil their responsibilities while remaining within the bounds of the law and the Constitution and end their role beyond their authority".

Referring to electronic voting machines (EVMs) which the PTI government recently unveiled, Rehman said he had heard that the machine was the "easiest way to do rigging".

He said the alliance wanted to make it clear that the PTI government's "unilateral electoral reforms" and steps taken to implement those reforms were rejected. The PDM also rejected the results of the elections held in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) last month as well as the results of the general elections held in 2018.

"We believe that the public has the right to select its representatives and will not allow it to be stolen in any way. We believe that an election-thieving, selected government is imposed on the country. We reject any kind of electoral reforms and legislation (by them)."

Rehman said the PDM also believed that the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have become "political organisations and lost their independence and objectivity" and were being used to take "political revenge" from the opposition.

The alliance also rejected "[restrictions] on media freedoms" and cases on journalists by the FIA and demanded that all the cases be taken back and "thuggery" against media be stopped, he added.

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