LAHORE: Sensing the need for a joint move to oust the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, the opposition parties are likely to agree on a combined long march on Islamabad.

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had last Thursday announced his party would start a long march on Islamabad from Karachi on Feb 27.

The eight-party opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), of which the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) are major components, had earlier given March 23 as the date for the long march on the federal capital.

A senior PML-N leader says the party, as well as Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI, are considering to request the PPP to delay its march for a week, while the PDM will also revise its agitation plan, so that a combined effort could be made to dislodge the government.

It may be recalled that the PDM, when it included the PPP, had planned a long march on Islamabad last year. However, the PPP parted ways with the alliance after its other components insisted the march should culminate in en bloc resignations from the assemblies.

Replying to a query, the PML-N leader says the opposition parties may launch their agitation separately, but all may converge in Islamabad for a joint sit-in there.

He quotes former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as desiring that there should be at least 10,000 participants in the sit-in at any time and instead of all being present at the venue every day, they should be given rest turn by turn.

Answering a question about mobilisation of the party cadres for the long march, the PML-N leader says that committees have been formed for the purpose and they will soon begin their work.

Meanwhile, the PPP has also approached various farmer organisations to invite them to join its ‘tractor march’ at divisional level from Jan 21.

The PPP’s organising committee member, Syed Hassan Murtaza, on Tuesday met with the Kisan Board leader Shaukat Chadhar and Kisan Council’s Tahir Gujjar, inviting the organisations to join the march.

Mr Murtaza claims that both the outfits have assured him of their participation in the protest and adds that other farmer bodies will also be contacted for the purpose.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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