Political rivals PPP and the PTI on Monday continued with their respective marches in Sindh to demonstrate their political muscle and "expose" each other's corruption and poor governance in the province and the centre respectively.
The PPP's march, led by party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, began in Karachi on Sunday and will pass through 34 cities to reach Islamabad after 10 days on March 8, according to a plan shared by the party.
The PPP, however, has not disclosed the final venue where the participants will gather after reaching the capital from all over the country. Sources in the party had earlier told Dawn that presently three places — D-Chowk, Aabpara Chowk and Faziabad Intersection — were under consideration of the party leadership for holding the final public meeting.
The march reached Hyderabad on Monday, where Bilawal addressed the participants and criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan over the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government's policies.
"This march is against the inefficient, ineligible and selected prime minister, against his economic and political policies and his cruelty," he said, adding that the march was also organised to protest growing inflation, poverty and unemployment.
Bilawal said in order to end the "economic crisis" in the country, the prime minister would have to be removed and free and fair elections would have be held.
"So that the next government has the people's mandates [...] and realises their problems, so that it makes people-friendly economic policies, not anti-people and anti-poor economic policies" devised by the PTI government.
Bilawal demanded that if PM Imran believed he could compete with the PPP, then in his address to the nation today, he should announce the dissolution of assemblies so that new elections were held.
He further said the prime minister should step down himself, otherwise PPP jiyalas were reaching Islamabad to make a "democratic attack" on the government through a no-confidence motion.
If the prime minister did not step down himself, masses would oust him, Bilawal said, reiterating that the premier should announce new elections today.
The PPP has also drafted a charter of demands, some of which are as under:
- The government must hold fair and transparent elections at all levels.
- The government must run its affairs in accordance with the 1973 Constitution.
- The principles of separate powers of the legislature, administration, and judiciary as enshrined in the 1973 constitution should be adhered to.
- All institutions must perform and operate within their own constitutional limits.
- Independent Election Commission of Pakistan should be established.
- Print and electronic media should be rid of censorship, both formal and unannounced.
- All unfair and oppressive provisions in the cybercrime law should be eliminated.
- Compulsory education for children up to the age of 16 in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution must be provided.
- Create a national consensus to ensure the rights of the people of Balochistan under the Constitution of Pakistan and to ensure their freedom of decision making.
- Ensure implementation of National Action Plan to root out violent extremism.
- Financial autonomy should be given to the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir along with full control over the revenue and financial resources assigned to them by the centre.
- Legal framework should be developed to regularize the slums and the most backward areas and provide them basic civic amenities.
Meanwhile, PTI, which had initiated its own "Haqooq-i-Sindh March’" from Ghotki on Feb 26 (Saturday), continued its march towards Karachi for a third day today, It is expected to reach the port city on March 6.
Addressing the participants of the march today, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qurehsi, who is also the PTI's senior vice-chairperson, said while the PPP had been saying it was prepared for elections, but it actually wanted delays in polls.
He accused the PPP of aiming to table a no-confidence motion against the government by means of "buying" lawmakers.
"But any elected representative with a conscience will not be sell-out because he has to answer his voters in his constituency ... they stand by their principles," he said, adding that the opposition's "drama" of tabling a no-trust motion would be unsuccessful.
While unveiling the protest plan late last month, federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reform and Special Initiatives Asad Umar had said the march would lead to the fall of the “Zardari mafia” and put the PTI in charge of the provincial government in 2023.
Umar had said the PTI's plan was aimed at reaching out to every single person in the province and unite the people against "this unjust rule of corruption and bad governance”.
According to the PTI, it will hold a "huge rally" in Hyderabad on March 5 while a day later it would stage another "massive rally" on its final destination, Karachi.