Saturday Oct 17, 2020
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held its first anti-government public rally in Gujranwala's Jinnah Stadium, with an approximate footfall of 50,000-60,000.
PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto, and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman were present at the jalsa, while people intermittently chanted slogans "prime minister Nawaz Sharif" and "go, Niazi, go!"
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif also joined in from London and addressed the anti-government jalsa.
Maryam, on her way to the stadium, made stops to speak to her supporters and energise them.
"There is an ocean of people front, back, right and left. This is unprecedented," Maryam had said earlier, as she shared pictures and videos of her party workers accompanying her convoy.
Meanwhile, Bilawal also pumped up his supporters and workers, saying that the Opposition would work together to oust "this (Prime Minister Imran Khan) oppressive ruler".
Bilawal said the Opposition was protesting against "historic" unemployment, inflation and poverty.
Ahsan Iqbal, addressing the jalsa, said: "He is not a prime minister who is selected, a premier is he who rules the people's hearts."
"There is 18 hours loadshedding in the country now," he said, adding that Nawaz Sharif had ended the problem and provided relief to the people.
Addressing the rally, PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the government that was formed after "stealing votes" can never be successful.
"Our narrative today is just this — that one must honour the people's votes."
He said that the trust that people put in a government must never be betrayed.
"The country will only progress when it is run in line with the Constitution," Abbasi said.
Meanwhile, in a conversation with Geo News, science minister Fawad Chaudhry has denied the government created any hurdles in the way of the Opposition, even when prompted by the show host to clarify why a National Assembly session was held today of all days.
Chaudhry asked how holding a parliament session can be considered an obstacle in the way of a rally. He also pointed out the lack of safety measures being observed by rally participants.
"No one is following SOPs. Our fear is that people will fall seriously ill due to this jalsa."
He said the Opposition "has called people over from all over the country" because "they don't have enough numbers of their own".
Coming back to the question of why an Assembly session was held, whether it was so that the prime minister could speak without any opposition, he said no one from the Opposition attends the session anyway.
"Besides PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, no real party leader is an MNA anyway," he added, referring to PML-N's Maryam Nawaz and JUI-F's Fazlur Rehman.
"Khwaja Asif, [Rana Sanaullah], Ahsan Iqbal are not the main leaders," he said when their names were cited.