JUI-F chief to lead PDM march on capital

Published August 30, 2021
KARACHI: The Pakistan Democratic Movement, an opposition alliance, holds a power show at Bagh-i-Jinnah on Sunday.—Shakil Adil / White Star
KARACHI: The Pakistan Democratic Movement, an opposition alliance, holds a power show at Bagh-i-Jinnah on Sunday.—Shakil Adil / White Star

• Nawaz accuses a few generals, elite of hijacking democracy
• Fazl says cities, towns will soon reflect PDM strategy

KARACHI: The opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance on Sunday staged a strong comeback after a months-long lull with a power show in Sindh’s capital announcing to rebuild the momentum of rallies and caravans against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led coalition government aimed at ending the “unjust rule”.

The key PDM leaders, in their addresses, vowed to relaunch the anti-government movement that would culminate in a march towards Islamabad, but did not share details and schedule for the campaign.

Over a dozen leaders addressed the rally at Bagh-i-Jinnah, which was jam-packed with men, women and children, but the key moment of the show was the address of Nawaz Sharif, former premier and founder of his own faction of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), from London via video link in which he blamed “a few generals and elite class” of hijacking the country’s democratic system. He vowed he would not stay silent anymore.

“In today’s circumstances it’s a crime to stay silent,” he said in his address that suffered a brief interruption due to internet connectivity and was shown over a huge screen placed on top of the stage. “A few generals and elite of the society have made this democratic system a hostage. We remained silent when the elected prime minister was thrown out. We stayed silent when votes were snatched and blue-eyed people were imposed over the country to rule. We stayed silent when honest and God-fearing judges were implicated in false cases. We stayed silent when the RTS [results transmission system] collapsed [in 2018 elections] and we stayed silent when the country’s poor segment of society was deprived of food. Now you have to decide that whether you want to stand with those who are suffering and scared or with those who raise their voice against injustice.”

Admitting PDM’s inactiveness for past several months owing to different reasons, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rahman who heads the alliance said the lull period was over. A joint strategy of the opposition parties would be visible in towns and cities soon, he said before giving a sketchy activism plan including another march on Islamabad.

“Insha Allah, from now onwards you would see not only the rallies but also road caravans across the country and definitely there would be a march to Islamabad,” he said to the roar of the crowd. “This is an unjust and illegal government that has only learnt to suppress the common man, increase poverty and make people unemployed and homeless. We want a strong parliamentary system in this country and we have promised to 220 million of Pakistan that we would keep struggling for that.”

In the same breath, he criticised the role of powerful military establishment for its alleged interference into politics accusing it of defying its role defined by the Constitution. “If the army interferes into politics, it goes against the defined rules of the Constitution,” he said.

“And if we politicians concede to the unjust rule, illegal government and accept the supremacy of the government that came into power through backdoor, we would defy our oath that we take as parliamentarians. Only the supremacy of law and the parliament can run this country. Otherwise the country would face the consequences and those consequences we are witnessing today.”

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, who had addressed the rally before his elder brother Nawaz Sharif and the Maulana, hinted at the roadmap of their plan when he while concluding his speech asked the PDM chief to lead the opposition parties in the “march on Islamabad to bring Imran Khan and his government down”.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2021

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