Saturday May 29, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Saturday said it rejects the government's "one-sided" electoral reforms, which include the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), and announced a fresh wave of anti-government protests.
"PDM rejects the government's unilateral electoral reforms ordinance, including the voting machines, and terms it as pre-poll rigging," PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said, as he addressed a press conference alongside PDM leaders.
In this regard, the Election Commission of Pakistan — which is responsible for holding transparent elections — should call a meeting of all political parties to take a unanimous decision on reforms, he said.
The PDM chief said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal, attended the alliance's meeting via video, while other Opposition party leaders were present in person.
Fazlur Rehman said PDM has decided to begin legal proceedings against the PTI-led government's "unlawful acts", for which, a legal team will be formed, with PML-N's Azam Nazeer Tarar as its convener and JUI-F's Kamran Murtaza as the co-convener.
He said the alliance decided a future course of action, and on July 4, a massive anti-government protest will be held in Swat, followed by another one in Karachi on July 29.
Thereafter, on the occasion of August 14, independence day, a massive protest will be held in Islamabad, with PDM showing solidarity to Kashmiris and Palestinians.
PML-N will also host a budget seminar soon to form a unified strategy during the government's budget session in the parliament, while the task to hold the event has been given to PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, Fazlur Rehman said.
He said that the PDM leaders, during the meeting, expressed concerns over the tumultuous events transpiring in the region.
"Our government is not elected, and the government that does not have the backing of the people does not have the capability to face any challenge," he said.
PDM demands that in light of the situation prevailing in the region and Afghanistan, a joint session of the parliament be called to discuss the foreign and defence policies, he said.
The PDM chief said the relevant officials overseeing the policies should brief the house over the developments in the Afghan peace process and other related matters.
"Government officials should especially address speculations that Pakistan is offering airspace to American planes," Fazl said.
The PDM meeting furthermore strongly condemned attacks on journalists and expressed its solidarity with them, he said.
A delegation of the anti-government alliance will also visit the residence of the journalists — Asad Ali Toor and Absar Alam — Fazl said.
Fazlur Rehman accused the government of taking over the citizens' lawfully owned lands to benefit some people. "PDM stands with the people and will never let them feel alone in these stressful times."
The PDM chief, responding to a question, said PPP and ANP were not discussed during the meeting, as they are no longer a part of the alliance.
"They can still contact the PDM leadership and apprise them about their intentions. But it is not something that we will waste time over anymore during PDM meetings," he said.
Meanwhile, taking over the presser, PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz said her father, Nawaz Sharif, had taken the same position as Fazlur Rehman had taken today.
Responding to PDM's press conference, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said the Opposition does not want to deliberate over electoral reforms, and at the same time demands reforms.
The minister, in a statement, said the government had repeatedly invited the Opposition to discuss the electoral reforms, but they had turned down the offer.
The information minister alleged that those who are against electronic voting want to see a rigging-riddled election system take flight in the country.
"The Opposition is confused, frustrated, and divided."
The information minister said one PDM faction wanted to stage protests, while the other wanted to resolve matters within the parliament.
Chaudhry advised PDM chief Fazlur Rehman not to harm the country's democracy over his political isolation.
He went on to say that Shahbaz Sharif and Fazlur Rehman are not on the same page.
The information minister said the Opposition should focus on the upcoming Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, as they will determine where they stand.