LAHORE: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) says both options of long march and no-confidence move against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government will go side by side.
“We have both options of long march as well as no-confidence. The long march will be held outside parliament, while the no-confidence option will be used inside parliament,” former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf told a press conference here on Tuesday.
The central Punjab PPP president claimed that there would be a record participation of the masses in the long march on Islamabad the party planned to take out from Karachi on Feb 27.
Flanked by Hassan Murtaza, Rana Farooq and Samina Ghurki, he said the middle class was on the verge of extinction in the country due to ‘flawed’ policies of the PTI government.
Referring to the ‘all is well’ chorus by the cabinet members, he said had this been the case the masses would not have been crying and cursing the government. He said farmers could not operate tubewells and tractors because of expensive diesel, hundreds of thousands of employees had been rendered jobless and the PPP could not watch all this as silent spectator.
Mr Ashraf said the long march was against inflation, unemployment, for the farmers, daily-wagers and the downtrodden people. He lamented that the government could not arrange the urea compost for the peasants, while petrol, gas and power tariffs had shot through the roof, while the prime minister was saying in his televised address that inflation was everywhere in the world.
He recalled that Imran Khan, during opposition days, had incited the people for civil disobedience asking them not to pay the bills.
The ex-prime minister regretted that the national currency and green passport had been devalued contrary to the claims of the PTI leadership, while all friendly and brotherly countries are now distancing themselves from Pakistan as the current foreign policy is nothing but a pack of hollow slogans.
There was a shortage of seeds, fertilisers, electricity, and agricultural equipment, he added. People were waiting for jobs as promised by the PTI leaders, he maintained. He said the government was making shelter homes instead of giving five million homes as promised during the election campaign, he continued.
In such a situation, he said, the PPP had to come out on roads in the larger interest of the people. He said a warm reception would be accorded to the long march participants at Chichawatni when they would enter central Punjab and the marchers would take the Grand Trunk Road from Lahore to reach Islamabad.
Urging the people to join hands with the party in the long march, he said the day of Feb 27 would become a part of history as the people of Punjab would support Bilawal like they had extended their support to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
Responding to a query about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s public meetings to counter the opposition’s pressure, Mr Ashraf said the ruling party must come out among the masses to have first-hand knowledge of the public opinion about the incumbent rulers.
He told a questioner that the long march would not culminate into a sit-in as the purpose of the march was to display emotions of the public about the rulers.
Answering a question, he said the opposition was united and that JUI-F leader Maulan Fazlur Rehman was also onboard about the protest plan.
Mr Murtaza said PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif after a meeting with former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari confirmed to journalists outside his house at a joint media talk with Bilawal Bhutto that there was a “difference of opinion” within his party over the issue of a no-confidence motion against the PTI government, which had pretty much cleared now.
The PPP was always clear about a no-confidence motion against the federal government but the PML-N had a difference of opinion. But now there has been a consensus to a large extent in the party.
Ghulam Hussain Jatt, a known person from Toba Tek Singh, joined the PPP.
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2022