• Fazl says rallies, wheel jams, long march to be staged
• Calls for fresh elections, rejects EVM
• Minister insists JUI-F chief’s political career is over
ISLAMABAD: The central committee of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Monday finally gave its consent to the longstanding demand of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to launch a countrywide agitation against the government.
Announcing the decisions taken during the meeting of party heads of the component parties of the alliance, Maulana Fazl, who is also the PDM president, told media that a series of protests and rallies would be staged across the country from Oct 20 onwards against rising inflation and increasing cost of essential items.
“Rallies and demonstrations will begin from the district level while all PDM component parties will meet at the provincial level,” Maulana Fazl said, adding that coordinators would be appointed to successfully execute the campaign against the government.
He said the opposition alliance would no longer tolerate the sufferings of people burdened by price hike and inflation.
“PDM will lead rallies and demonstrations, stand shoulder to shoulder with people and get them their due rights,” he said, adding that, “we are preparing a schedule under which rallies and demonstrations will be held.”
“We will go a step further and hold wheel-jams and long march, but step by step,” he said, adding that the task required hard work.
The PDM chief also called for holding of fresh general elections in the country.
“We are not discussing local bodies polls – the main issue is holding of free and fair general elections in the country,” he demanded on behalf of the component parties of the alliance.
“There is no reason of holding local government elections when there is no legitimate government in the country,” he added.
The PDM also rejected the electronic voting machine (EVM) and said it was just another name for Result Transmission System (RTS).
“The EVM will be used to manipulate the elections and steal votes,” the Maulana said, claiming that the government that had come to power through rigging had no right to present any formula or law to hold free, fair and transparent elections.
He also talked about his own mainstream constituencies and said the country’s border with Afghanistan and Iran were closed, which was affecting people residing in the areas.
“PDM demands that the government open borders for routine business and trade,” he said.
Responding to the ongoing issue of ISI director general’s appointment, Maulana Fazl said the opposition alliance did not want to interfere in any official matter.
The PDM meeting rejected the NAB Ordinance, terming it a remnant of dictatorship that had always been used to victimise the opposition.
The meeting was attended by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Dr Abdul Malik, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and Prof Sajid Mir. Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Akhtar Mengal participated in the meeting through video link.
Later responding to Maulana Fazl’s press talk, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry mocked the JUI-F chief, saying that he should start a “rent a crowd” service for political parties as his (Maulana) “political career had ended”.
“Maulana Sahab is nothing more than Chala Hua Kartoos (fired cartridge),” he said in a statement issued on Monday.
The minister said the JUI-F chief had already been used for bringing crowds in political gatherings in the past too.
“Maulana Fazl was trying to be politically relevant by making non-serious statements, but the nation does not take him seriously,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry also said the opposition was left with no choice but to cry foul all the time, adding that they were looking for excuses to protest against the government.
Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2021