Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat has advised the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and opposition to call off their respective power shows, which they plan on holding at Islamabad's D-Chowk on the eve of a no-trust vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan in the National Assembly.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Shujaat appealed to both the sides to immediately announce the cancellation of their rallies in the "greater interest of the country".
"Given the current situation in Pakistan, [we] cannot afford this dangerous confrontation," he said, adding that "the politics of rallies and numbers" by the opposition and government had further troubled the people already struggling in the face of inflation and poverty.
The PML-Q chief, who has been a key ally of the PTI so far, said it's usually the opposition parties that indulge in the "politics of rallies" but this time around the government was also holding public meetings in competition with its rivals.
"Holding rallies is not the government's job," he said.
Shujaat warned that the politics of tit-for-tat could create "political chaos and a crisis", which would benefit Pakistan's "internal and external enemies".
"And everyone would regret if someone is killed during this confrontation," he remarked.
He urged the PTI and opposition parties to not lead their supporters towards "provocative politics".
He asked both the sides to participate in the upcoming no-trust motion in a democratic manner and set aside their egos in favour of democracy and the Constitution.
Shujaat said the PML-Q's politics has always had the country's interests at its heart and that his party prioritises "reconciliation" in politics.
He also said that those who called the PML-Q a "small party have forgotten that we have made big decisions for the sake of the country and democracy". The remark was an apparent response to Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid calling the PML-Q "a party of few districts" on separate occasions during the last few days.
Shujaat's statement has come amid rising political temperatures in the wake of the joint opposition — primarily the PPP and Pakistan Democratic Movement — submitting a no-confidence motion against PM Imran last week. Since then, both the sides have been seen increasingly engaged in trading barbs and insults.
It was on one such occasion that PM Imran announced last week the PTI's plan to hold a public meeting at D-Chowk ahead of the no-trust vote as he delivered a scathing speech against the opposition.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan later announced on Monday that the party had finalised March 27 for holding the rally.
Hours after the announcement, PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman also gave a call to the public and workers of its component parties to begin a long march towards Islamabad on March 23 to stage a sit-in which he said could continue till the completion of the voting process in the National Assembly.
As Shujaat opposed these decisions today, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry clarified in response to the statement that the objective of PTI's rally at D-Chowk was not a "confrontation".
"The PTI is a democratic party and we don't practice the politics of extremism. Neither do we believe in confrontations," he tweeted.
In a subsequent tweet, he added that "public opinion is the real decision in a democracy and rallies were an important means to express this opinion."
He further said if the opposition wanted to hold a peaceful rally, "we welcome it and will facilitate this and will provide them with all facilities".