• Protests under ‘Tehreek Tahafuz Ayeen-i-Pakistan’ umbrella to begin from Balochistan today
• Achakzai chosen to lead bloc including PTI, BNP-M, JI, PkMAP, MWM

QUETTA: After a late-night sitting that continued till the early hours of Saturday morning, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan announced a countrywide movement for the rule of law by a coalition of six opposition parties, under the banner of Tehreek Tahafuz Ayeen-i-Pakistan (TTAP).

The movement will not only hold public meetings, starting from Pishin today (on Saturday), but also engage bar associations, university students and other parties for mustering their support for the campaign against the PML-N-led coalition government.

The PTI secretary general said that Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai was nominated as president of the six parties’ alliance with consensus of the leadership of opposition parties at the hours-long meeting, which was presided over by BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal.

He said the movement was being launched against alleged massive rigging in the February 8 elections, with an aim to protect the constitution and resorting rule of law. The alliance rejected the ‘government’ established by tampering with the election result.

Besides the PTI secretary general, Mr Mengal and Mr Achakzai, Sunni Ittehad Council chairman Sahib­zada Hamid Raza Khan, Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen Chairman Raja Nasir Abbas and Jamaat-i-Islami leader Liaquat Baloch also attended the meeting.

Mr Ayub said the meeting rejected increase in gas and electricity rates, which made it difficult for the people to earn their livelihoods. “All political parties have joined the opposition alliance of their own will in view of the deteriorating situation in all fields,” he said.

Addressing the press conference, Mr Achakzai said, “None of us is against the army. We have objections to its political role.” He said none of the allies had breached the constitution.

“The Constitution is a social contract and we will start public meetings from Saturday for its protection,” Mr Achakzai said. He also believed there should be no extension in the service of any civil and military officer.

JI’s Liaquat Baloch said the people had been pushed against the wall as their mandate was not being accepted. He said, “I agree with the decision and announcement of the alliance meeting and we will give our stance after the meeting of Jamaat’s Shura.”

Allama Raja Nasir Abbas said that with the support of the masses, they would struggle for the rule of law.

At an earlier presser, the PTI secretary general had announced a public meeting in Pishin on Saturday (today), which will be addressed by the leaders of all the six opposition parties.

Mr Ayub said the protest movement would be initiated from Balochistan and later expanded to other parts of the country.

JUI-F inclusion?

In response to a question about the potential involvement of JUI-F in the protest movement, Mr Ayub said the matter would be discussed further in upcoming meetings of the alliance. He criticised the election results which he claimed originally showed PTI securing 180 seats in the National Assembly, a victory he said was overturned by manipulations involving Form 47, an official electoral document. “Our protest will continue until the peoples’ mandate is restored in PTI’s favour,” he said.

The PTI leader slammed the current administration under President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, labelling them as products of Form 47. He said their government did not represent the people of the country as “they have rejected the parties sitting in the government”.

Mr Ayub expressed concerns about Pakistan’s deteriorating investment climate and increasing unemployment and attributed these to the lack of rule of law. He highlighted the need to restore investor confidence through legal and constitutional reforms. “Investment will come when there is a rule of law,” he said.

He said the PTI was not allowed to hold election meetings. “Our leader was sent to jail on false cases, but they failed to keep the people from supporting Imran Khan,” he said.

Mr Ayub emphasised PTI’s commitment to regional development, particularly in Balochistan, where the party had previously initiated substantial projects. He lamented that these initiatives have stalled since the “regime change”, a reference to Imran Khan’s April 2022 ouster.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

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