PDM to defy govt ban, hold rallies

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the 11-party opposition alliance, announced on Tuesday that it would proceed with its rallies despite the ban imposed by the government in the wake of the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in the country.

The alliance, formed to send the government packing, also rejected the results of the recent elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, where the ruling PTI has emerged as the leading party.

During a meeting of the PDM leaders in Islamabad, a five-member committee was formed to finalise the ‘Charter of Pakistan’, which would be signed by the leadership of the constituent parties at the alliance’s public gathering in Lahore on December 13.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the president of the PDM, said the alliance had rejected the government’s decision to suspend rallies and public gatherings on the “pretext” of Covid-19.

“This [restriction on rallies] has been imposed after the G-B elections. Until a day before yesterday, the ruling party was itself holding rallies,” he added.

“The entire country is open. This ban has been imposed because they [government] fear the PDM. We will step up our movement and not rest until the government is sent packing. The rallies will go ahead as scheduled.”

The rallies are scheduled to take place in Peshawar on November 22, in Multan on November 30 and in Lahore on December 13. The alliance had already staged rallies in Gujranwala, Karachi and Quetta.

Accompanied by other PDM leaders, the JUI-F chief said the PDM had rejected the results of the G-B polls as they were rigged and a “repeat” of the 2018 general elections.

“The elections were ‘stolen’ from the people,” he claimed, adding that state resources were used for this purpose.

The PDM in its meeting formed a committee comprising PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal and Khurram Dastgir, PPP’s Sherry Rehman and Raza Rabbani and Murtaza Kamran to finalise the ‘Charter of Pakistan’ to restore “real” democracy in the country.

However, the alliance agreed on a dozen goals. They include ensuring the supremacy and protection of federal, democratic, parliamentary and Islamic constitution’s supremacy; independence of parliament, distancing establishment and intelligence agencies from politics; establishing an independent judiciary, reforms for free and fair elections; protection of the public’s basic and democratic rights; protection of provincial rights and 18th Amendment, establishment of an effective mechanism for local governments; protection of freedom of expression and independent media; elimination of extremism and terrorism; introducing an emergency economic package to eliminate poverty, inflation and unemployment; and protection and implementation of Islamic sections of Constitution.

The JUI-F chief ruled out any chances of negotiations with the government, saying that the ruling PTI did not represent the people.

He also condemned the registration of “politically-motivated” cases against opposition leaders.

Fazl claimed that former Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Shabbar Zaidi was sacked when he had caught those responsible for giving a benefit of Rs400 billion to the sugar mafia. “His [Shabbar] confession is an FIR against the government,” he added.

However, Shabbar, following the Maulana’s news conference, tweeted that the claim was “incorrect”.

“My respect for Imran Khan increased many times after working with him. He is great leader and a warrior against status quo. I respect and salute him,” he added.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said she had suggested to the constituent parties of the PDM to rid themselves of “turncoats”.

“We will stick to the same policy in Peshawar that we have been following so far.”

She further said the PTI should be embarrassed that it was unable to win the majority of the seats in G-B.

This article originally appeared on The Express Tribune