Sunday Dec 13, 2020
As the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) puts on a show of power at Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan, with PML-N's Maryam Nawaz, PPP's Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and JUI-F's Maulana Fazlur Rehman set to address the audience, the PTI-led government's ministers and officials have been taking jibes at the Opposition coalition.
Speaking to Geo News, Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Shibli Faraz said the atmosphere at the PDM's Lahore jalsa was "as cold as today's weather".
"People have used the right to vote against them," Faraz said, adding that the Opposition was unable to gather more than 10,000 to 15,000 people.
"Lahore has outright dismissed them. Lahore has rejected Maryam Nawaz," he commented, adding that while the atmosphere could be "heated up on the television, it was cold at the venue".
The special assistant to the chief minister of Punjab, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, said people believed that Prime Minister Imran Khan "can get the government out of trouble".
"People think of Imran Khan as the messiah," Dr Awan added, noting that the Opposition had no consideration for the people as it set up a political drama during the worst conditions of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"All these are circus players, they are jesters," she added. "A classroom of all MNAs and MPAs was set up and their attendance marked.
Referring to the PTI regime, she said: "You have never seen the government give such a free rein to the Opposition. It neither stopped them nor installed any containers anywhere.
"No shelling was carried out and no shots fired either," Dr Awan added. "Despite all the concessions [given to the Opposition], the venue was built on five acres of Greater Park.
"The PDM failed to attract Lahoris to its jalsa," she said.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the Pakistani people were "not ready to be fooled by these thieves and looters" again.
Speaking to the media in Multan, Qureshi said the nation has come to know the reality of their hollow and false slogans. "The political clowns who looted people have reunited once again," he added.
"The nation has blessed with an honest leadership in the form of Imran Khan after 70 years [but] the Opposition is unable digest Pakistan's progress.
Speaking of the regimes in the past, he said the politics of 'taking turns' has harmed the country. "The gang of thieves wants to use the people to save their looted property.
"The time has come to end the politics of looting," FM Qureshi noted. The PDM is "imposing their personal agenda upon the people", he said, adding that it was a "personal battle" of Nawaz Sharif, Fazlur Rehman, and Asif Ali Zardari.
"How can those who hold rallies amid a strong [second] wave of the coronavirus pandemic be well-wishers of the common people," he inquired.
"We pray to God to keep the jalsa participants safe," Qureshi stated, advising people who attended the rally to quarantine themselves after returning to their homes.
The foreign minister said the deception of the Opposition's power and popularity among people had been revealed; however, while the government was ready for talks, it "will not give them NRO".
"The Opposition should come to the Parliament and take part in the legislation," he added.
Speaking of the incumbent PTI-led regime, he said its strategy was to work for the country's progress. "We will focus our attention to the economy and inflation is already decreasing," he explained.
"A storm in a cup of tea does not cause political instability."
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communications, Dr Shahbaz Gill, said the PDM's jalsa in Lahore had "flopped".
Sharing footage purportedly from the PDM rally at 5:15pm, Gill said the jalsa of the Opposition's coalition "was buried in Lahore today".
He also shared another video where PML-N's Hashmi was reportedly seen slapping the hand of a reporter interviewing him at the venue.
"And these are the champions of democracy who slap for asking questions," he said.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Babar Awan, said the decision of the people of Punjab was that PDM had been "rejected".
"Two months of preparation, two weeks of Maryam requesting and begging the people of Lahore [to join the PDM rally] but even their political workers did not come out let alone Lahore," Awan said on Twitter.
"Their corner meeting venue with a few thousand chairs on the side Minar-e-Pakistan is also empty. PDM has been rejected. That's Punjab's decision," he added.
In a statement, the spokesperson for the Punjab government, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, said the gathering of "the leaders of the thieves' union at Ayaz Sadiq's house indicates that the whole game is being played from the top".
"Their aim is to please their masters in India," Cheema added, adding that the Opposition leaders getting together at Sadiq's house proved the former speaker of the National Assembly made anti-Pakistan comments with their nod of approval.
"These people are worthy of being called traitors," the Punjab government spokesperson said.
Taking a jibe at the PML-N VP, he said: "Maryam Nawaz's arrogance is being rubbed in her face today; she's addressing an empty venue and even her MNAs are also missing from the scene.
"Seeing the faces of this 'mix pickle', I feel pity for them. 11 parties could not fill up even a few kanals of the ground," he said, adding — in yet another apparently sarcastic comment — that "the granny tells lies too".
"The chief justice who took notice of the Panama Papers case was not Justice [Asif Saeed] Khosa," Cheema added.
Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi challenged the PDM, saying he would give Umrah tickets to the first five Opposition politicians who resign.
"The Opposition will have to account for its corruption. NROs will not be given to anyone," Zaidi added.
"She's saying, 'My greetings to those who are far away and I cannot see,' but between you and I, no one is able to see them anywhere," he wrote on Twitter in a sassy comment.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan commented on how today's jalsa was "another flop show" and that the "PDM is doing back-to-back flop rallies".
In a video statement released from Islamabad, the senator said the Opposition coalition's rallies in the past were a failure as well.
"PML-N... Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'un," he added, referring to the Quranic command that translates to: "Verily we belong to Allah, and verily to Him do we return."
"The PDM is also taking its last breath and it, too, has no future," Javed added. Prime Minister Imran Khan had filled up the Minar-e-Pakistan three times by himself but "this is the situation of 11 parties coming together", he said, claiming that the Opposition had failed to get people to attend its rally in Lahore.
"The number of people who come to their [PDM's] meeting in total are equal to the number of people we have on the stage in our [PTI's rallies]," he added.
Slamming the PDM for putting "people's lives in danger", the PTI leader criticised the Opposition coalition for doing everything to "save their personal corruption and theft".
Haleem Adil Sheikh, the vice-president of the PTI's Central chapter and the party’s parliamentary leader in the provincial assembly, said people were being taken to Lahore to participate in the PDM rally.
The PDM's jalsa in Lahore "is likely to spread coronavirus across the country", he said during a press conference in Karachi. "If the PDM starts a rally from Sindh!"
The PDM got "nothing but disgrace everywhere", Sheikh added. "The anti-national rhetoric of the 11-party gang has been rejected by the people even today," he said.
Criticising Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Chairperson Mehmood Khan Achakzai, he termed the former MNA "a traitor to the country", saying: "After attacking Urdu literature during the Karachi rally, Achakzai has also targeted the people of Lahore in today's rally — which is strongly condemned.
"Today, the PDM's bubble has burst and the anti-corruption movement will not continue anymore," the PTI leader added.