Opposition demands PM’s resignation, announces protests

ISLAMABAD – The Opposition parties’ All Parties Conference on Sunday formed Pakistan Democratic Movement against the federal government and demanded immediate resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Speaking at a joint news conference after the APC, Pakistan People’s Party Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) President Shehbaz Sharif and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the country could no longer bear Imran Khan at the helm.

Reading out the 26-point resolution passed by the APC, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the PDM had been launched to counter the government. “The alliance is aimed at getting rid of the incompetent government. The alliance will run the nationwide protest movement in an organised and coordinated manner,” he said.

The main point of the resolutions included immediate resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and start of a countrywide protest campaign which will be participated by lawyers, traders, farmers, labourers, students, civil society, media and general public.

According to the opposition parties’ agreement, joint rallies will be held in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Lahore in the first phase in October and November.

Major rallies and demonstrations will be held in provincial capitals in December 2020. A full-fledged countrywide protest and Long March towards Islamabad will be held in January 2021. The resolution urged that the institutions should not interfere in the politics. “We call for new elections and reduction in prices of essential commodities without any outside intervention. There should also be electoral reforms,” the JUI-F chief said. 

The APC rejected the option of the Presidential System and blamed the government for the fall of Kashmir. The meeting also called for lifting the “worst restrictions” on media in history and dismissing cases against journalists. The National Action Plan, CPEC, 18th Amendment, supremacy of parliament, restoration of local bodies, cuts in higher education budget, Aghaz-e-Haqooq (provision of rights initiative) Balochistan, restoration of civil authority in place of Frontier Corps were also part of the resolution.

The resolution demanded formation of a Truth Commission to document the true history of Pakistan from 1947 to date.

The APC decided that a committee would be formed to formulate a Charter of Pakistan which would be tasked to formulate a concrete strategy covering the problems facing Pakistan, including the guidelines of the Founders of Pakistan and the 1973 Constitution in the light of Pakistan’s clear direction as a modern Islamic democratic welfare state.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the incumbent government had been granted “fake stability” that had imposed it on the people through rigged elections. The resolution claimed increasing interference of the establishment in internal affairs of the country.

He condemned the intentions to abolish Local Bodies in Punjab, introduce a presidential system in the country and cut the budget for higher education. The government, he said, had ruined the common man’s life with rising inflation, unemployment, and taxes and demand that the prices of flour, sugar, ghee, electricity and gas should be immediately brought down.”

The JUI-F chief said the incidents of terrorism had increased in the country due to the non-implementation of the National Action Plan, adding the inexperienced government has jeopardized Pak-China Economic Corridor. The unanimous resolution of the opposition called for holding transparent elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. The APC also ratified the resolution of Pakistan Bar Council calling for an end to the disappearance of Pakistani nationals.

He said the government had paralysed the parliament and the voice of the opposition was being suppressed. “The opposition will not cooperate with the rubber-stamp Parliament anymore,” he added.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the tribal areas had been made no-go areas, and that the forum demands an end to this. APC host Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that all the options presented in PDM’s action plan and resolution were constitutional and democratic, including protests and the demand for PM’s resignation.

Asked about rumours that some members of the opposition voted in favour of the government to ensure the passage of Financial Action Task Force-related bills last week, Bilawal said that votes fell short because some lawmakers could not attend the session due to different reasons.

The PPP chief said the opposition parties were on the same page and had demanded a vote recount during the FATF legislation. He said that the passage of laws during the joint session of the parliament was made possible through “rigging.”

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that the federal government’s survival was a “threat” to Pakistan’s existence. He said the opposition parties will work together to achieve the goal of a true democracy.

Earlier in the day, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif made a political comeback after around a year as he addressed the APC. Sharif and PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari spoke over the video link and announced to send the government packing.

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