ISLAMABAD: In its tit-for-tat power show, held just a day after the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf held a large public meeting in the federal capital, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Monday renewed its pledge to topple the Imran government, noting that his first wicket — that of the Punjab chief minister — had already fallen.
The opposition show of power along the Srinagar Highway was addressed by PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and leader of the opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz and other leaders after their caravan, which had set off from Lahore on March 26, arrived two days later in Islamabad’s Sector H-9 where Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) supporters had set up camp.
The participants decided to remain at the same venue until the day of voting on the opposition’s no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, despite warnings from the interior minister against turning the opposition rally into a prolonged sit-in.
Addressing the crowd, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz said PM Khan was using the ‘religious card’ to save his regime. She said the prime minister had sacrificed his main pillar in Punjab — Chief Minister Usman Buzdar — in order to save his own skin.
“You pushed your most trustworthy man [Buzdar] into the water to save your own rule. We have not seen such an ungrateful man in our whole lives. He also sacrificed PTI leader Jehangir Tarin,” she reminded the crowd.
About the letter that the PM had brandished the previous night, the PML-N leader said he had shown a fake letter, which even the interior minister was unaware of.
Ms Nawaz said the time had come to give final push to the prime minister, saying that no one would come to his rescue.
She said PM Khan had already lost people’s confidence, which was also indicated by the ruling party’s defeat in 15 out of 16 by-elections in recent months. “Today he has also lost confidence of the parliament and his own party,” she added.
Ms Nawaz said the prime minister had no right to sit in the PM House and to decide to fate of the country.
“I challenge you to have 172 MNAs with you on the voting day on no-trust motion,” she added.
Speaking on the occasion, Hamza Shehbaz said Mr Khan’s days in government were numbered, adding that he was yet to provide answers about the funding he and his party had received from abroad.
“If we had taken kickbacks and commissions in the government contracts, we will apologise to the nation and will go home. But we have not committed money laundering. Now you have to answer about illegal foreign funding,” he added.
“I want to say to my nation that politics and life will move on but if the crippling economy is hit by another jolt, the nuclear programme of the country might also be affected. If we do not throw Imran out today, Allah will ask us what you have done to provide relief to the poor who were worst affected by Imran’s faulty policies,” he added.
PPP leader Nayyar Bukhari said the Supreme Court had clearly said whatever its decision on the government’s reference, it will not affect the opposition’s no-trust motion.
He claimed that under the Constitution, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was supposed to submit his resignation to the Punjab governor, not the prime minister.
Prominent among others who were present on the occasion were: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Awami National Party (ANP) leader Mian Iftikhar, Aftab Sherpao, Mehmood Achakzai etc.
Addressing the crowd, Mr Iftikhar said the opposition would continue its struggle till the removal of the prime minister. He said insurgency and terrorism were again rising in the country due to lack of implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). If the situation did not change, “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan will face another wave of bomb blasts in the days to come,” he feared.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai said will the opposition leadership would be able to put the country back on right track after Imran Khan’s oister.
He said a high level meeting should be called, which should be attended by represenatatives of the judiciary, army, media and other stakeholders, who will vow that all institutions will work under their own domain.
He also called on PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif not to accept premiership of a country that had “no rule of law”.
The JUI-F security force, Ansarul Islam, was seen at the venue of the public meeting while heavy contingents of police were present on the highway. Interestingly, the local administration of Islamabad had not given any permission to the organisers for a sit-in.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2022