PDM announces country-wide protests, long march against govt's 'anti-people' policies

Published November 6, 2021
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman briefs the media about the alliance's plans in this file photo. — DawnNewsTV/File
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman briefs the media about the alliance's plans in this file photo. — DawnNewsTV/File

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a multi-party opposition alliance — has decided to launch protests across the country as well as a long march towards Islamabad against the government's "anti-people" measures and inflation, according to a statement issued on Saturday by PML-N leader and the alliance's secretary general Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The statement was issued after it was decided in a virtual meeting of the PDM that protest rallies would be held in all provincial capitals.

"A protest will be held in Karachi on November 13, followed by one in Quetta on November 17 and in Peshawar on November 20," Abbasi said, adding that the last rally would be taken out in Lahore, from where protesters would march towards the federal capital.

"This movement will end only after sending [Prime Minister] Imran Khan packing," it stated. "This is a movement to rid [the country] of Imran Khan."

The former prime minister said the overall economic and political situation in the country was discussed during the virtual meeting of the PDM today — which was presided over by the alliance's chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

"[Spiralling] inflation, the National Accountability Ordinance, the so-called electoral reforms ... among other issues came under discussion," Abbasi said, adding that the PDM rejected the increase in the prices of electricity, gas, petrol, wheat flour, ghee, sugar, medicines and other essential commodities.

The PDM demanded that the increase in the prices of electricity, gas, petrol and other commodities be reversed.

"The actual reason behind inflation is the historic corruption by Imran Khan's government," the statement said.

The participants of the meeting demanded that the agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund be made public and resolved to launch a "decisive movement against [the government's] anti-people policies".

"The nation is unwilling to bear this government even for a minute, which has inflicted back-breaking inflation on the people," Abbasi is quoted as saying.

Abbasi said the PDM had also rejected the National Accountability Ordinance, election reforms, electronic voting machines, i-voting, deeming that they were based on mala fide intention.

"This forum considers government measures on non-democratic, so-called electoral reforms a bigger fraud than the 2018 election fraud," he said. "This is a conspiracy to deny the people their right to vote and steal the election."

Abbasi said the PDM resolved to foil the conspiracy of stealing the people's mandate.

He added that the members of the opposition alliance also committed to ensuring overseas Pakistanis' representation in parliament in the true sense.

"A strategy for the protest to foil this government's conspiracy will be prepared, and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has been given the responsibility for devising the roadmap," he said.

Abbasi said the PDM had also demanded immediate legal action against those found responsible for the Daska by-poll fiasco in the inquiry report. The report, he said, proved that the government had stolen votes in the by-election and perpetrated the kidnapping of presiding officers.

"The vote robbers and kidnappers should be punished."

Growing inflation

The PDM's announcement of protests against inflation comes as the government continues to face severe criticism by the opposition over the soaring prices of various commodities in the country.

The criticism particularly intensified after Prime Minister Imran approved a Rs8 increase in the price of petrol earlier this month. Major opposition parties, including the PML-N and the PPP, have held countrywide rallies and protests over what they term "unprecedented inflation in the country".

Meanwhile, inflation measured through the Sensitive Price Index posted an increase of 1.23 per cent for the week ended on October 28 driven by a sharp rise in the prices of essential food items, data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed.

This was the fourth consecutive week that witnessed an upward increase. Earlier, the finance ministry had warned of inflation further rising in the country.

While the prime minister announced a welfare package on Wednesday to mitigate the impact of inflation, the prices of ghee — one of the items the premier had announced would be available at subsidised rates under the new package — were raised simultaneously. The decision was later revoked following an uproar, but the criticism from the opposition continued.

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