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pakistan
Friday Feb 05 2021
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Web Desk

PDM agrees on 'long march', contesting Senate elections together: Fazlur Rehman

By ,
Web Desk


PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman (C) addresses a press conference, flanked by Maryam Nawaz (R) and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (L), in Islamabad, on February 4, 2021. — YouTube
  • Fazlur Rehman announces long march towards Islamabad on March 26 after a six-hour-long huddle
  • Says parties to contest Senate elections together; PDM rejects open ballot method
  • PDM chief says Nawaz Sharif in message to Opposition alliance said "all is well, InshaAllah"


ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is addressing a press conference after an important meeting of the anti-government alliance was held to mull several strategies, including participation in the Senate elections and the long march, in its anti-government campaign.

Fazlur Rehman said that the alliance has decided on a "long march" towards Islamabad on March 26. According to sources, the long march will be termed "mehengai march" (march against inflation).

He also said that the parties have decided to contest the Senate elections together and will not go against each other's candidates. "Our candidates will be jointly decided," he said.

The PDM chief said that the movement "rejects" the open ballot method of Senate polls and the constitutional amendment to bring it about.

"The Opposition believes in the overall package of election reforms," he said.

"It seems as if PTI does not believe in its members and the PTI leadership wishes to make such unsavoury people senators that their own members are not willing to vote for them," Fazlur Rehman remarked.

Speaking of inflation, he said that PDM had decided that electricity, gas and petroleum costs have skyrocketed and "made the lives of people difficult".

"We will continue to stand by the people shoulder-to-shoulder against these illegitimate rulers and are ready to give any sacrifice required to bring them out of this difficult situation," the PDM chief said.

He also said that PDM "rejects" the formation of the commission to probe the Broadsheet scandal and considers it an attempt to "conceal their corruption".

Fazlur Rehman that the way the development funds are being distributed, it seems as if Imran Khan has forgotten how "he would consider this bribery" in the past. "Now the Supreme Court judges have taken a suo moto notice, the dissemination of these funds should be stopped."

He said that government employees will be protesting in Islamabad on February 10 and all those people who demonstrate against the government will find support from the PDM.

'Murder of justice'

The PDM chief said that in the foreign funding case against the PTI, 23 accounts were brought to attention, "but 18 are being hidden". "The talk of an open trial of the matter was nothing but a drama and has no standing," he added.

"This is why he (Imran Khan) can no longer be termed saadiq (honest) and ameen (trustworthy) and his government must be declared illegal and justice demands a prompt decision in this regard, otherwise it is the murder of justice," said Fazlur Rehman.

'No cooperation in parliament'

He said that in the parliament, the Opposition's protests will continue and there will be "no cooperation" with the government towards parliamentary proceedings.

'Certified thief'

The PDM chief, criticising the government over the recent corruption rankings given by Transparency International, said that Imran Khan would laud the agency for its transparent findings and how "whomever it declares a thief is a thief", and now he himself has been "declared the most corrupt man".

"He has been declared a certified thief."

What of the no-confidence motion?

To a question by a journalist of what the PDM has decided about bringing a no-confidence motion to overthrow the government, Fazlur Rehman said that since the alliance has decided to contest the Senate elections, "until the elections are over we will not announce anything final".

What about resignations?

He said similarly, as seats are being utilised while contesting Senate elections, this is an option that will be considered later. "You must have patience," remarked PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz.

Kashmir Day

He said that on the occasion of Kashmir Day, PDM leaders will hold a rally of solidarity in Muzaffarabad, as is custom.

"The situation right now is that Kashmir has been sold off and where there is so much oppression against Kashmiris and its special status has been abolished, we will continue to stand with them in this protest," said Fazlur Rehman.

'Fight against all non-democratic practices'

The PDM chief said that the movement's fight is against all practices that are "non-democratic".

Nawaz's message

Upon being asked by a journalist of what PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif's message to the PDM today was, Fazlur Rehman replied by saying: "He said 'all is well, InshaAllah'."

'Long march could convert into a sit-in'

PMLN’s Raja Zafarul Haq told Geo.tv that the long march could convert into a sit-in. “It can happen, we will see,” he said. During the six-hour long PDM meeting, Nawaz Sharif suggested holding shutter down strikes in the country before the long march. When asked, Haq added that Nawaz Sharif is the head of the party.

On PML-N taking part in the local body polls expected to be held this year, he said the party will decide whether to participate or not after the ECP announces the dates

Six hour huddle

Prior to the press conference a meeting between senior party leaders was held in Islamabad, lasting more than six hours.

PPP's delegation included Bilawal Bhutto, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sherry Rehman, Qamar Zaman Kaira, and Farhatullah Babar. From PML-N, the party's vice-president Maryam Nawaz, Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, and Rana Sanaullah were present.

Ameer Haider Hoti, Mehmood Khan Ackahzai, Aftab Sherpao, Akram Durrani, Owais Shah Noorani, Professor Sajid Mir, and Dr Malik were also in attendance.

Sources said that other options, including a no-confidence motion were also debated between PPP and PML-N leaders.

Nawaz, Fazl speak over phone

Earlier, Fazl and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had reportedly spoken over the phone. Sources said the two leaders had consultations over the anti-government movement. 

Nawaz is said to have agreed with the proposals put forward by Fazl, giving assurances to the PDM chief of PML-N's full support on whatever PDM decides.

Read more: Maryam, Fazl discuss Nawaz's message at PDM chief's residence: sources

It was reported that Nawaz told Fazl that the PML-N is ready to use full force in the anti-government movement.

News of the phone call between Nawaz and Fazl comes after a meeting at Fazl's house of JUI-F's Central Working Committee which lasted for six hours. After the meeting, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz reached Fazl's house with PML-N veteran leader Rana Sanaullah and party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb.

The discussion of the politicians reportedly centred around PDM's joint strategy on the Senate elections and PPP's no-confidence motion - both to be debated today.

'PTI government a threat to Pakistan'

A day earlier, PML-N senior leader Ahsan Iqbal had said the PTI government has become a threat to Pakistan.

He was speaking to the media outside the residence of Fazl in Islamabad. Iqbal said the PTI government has ruined the economy and foreign policy.

Read more: PDM to contest by-polls, will take decision on Senate election later: Fazl

The deadline given to the government to resign has expired, he said, adding that the top leadership of the PDM will now make important announcements regarding the long march and future strategy of the 11-party opposition alliance against the government.

Iqbal said that one thing everyone in the agreed on in the meeting at Fazl's house was that Imran Khan has to go.

We will not be at peace till we dismiss this government, he said.