Saturday Aug 28, 2021
PPP "stabbed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in the back", the Opposition alliance's chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, said Friday, as he announced an expansion of protests by the movement across the country.
Fazl, speaking at a press conference in Karachi alongside Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and other political party leaders, told reporters to not discuss PPP as it was "a thing of the past".
A meeting of the leaders of various Opposition political parties in the PDM was held prior to the media briefing, ahead of the alliance's rally at the Quaid's mausoleum on Sunday.
"PDM will also raise the issues in Sindh," he said, hitting out once more at the PPP, which is the ruling provincial party.
The PDM chief said women would also come to the anti-government protests, and they would be treated with the utmost respect — in reference to the recent harassment incidents with women in Lahore.
The PDM chief said the Opposition alliance rejects the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA). "We do not accept this black law."
Fazl said PDM stands in solidarity with the journalist community and announced a protest outside the parliament, as PMDA was an "unannounced", "dictatorial" law.
The meeting participants expressed sorrow over the fire at a chemical factory that killed 16 labourers in Karachi, the blast in Quetta which left several injured, and other incidents, he said.
Fazl said leaders of all the political parties associated with the anti-government movement had attended the meeting, and they expressed grief over the ongoing "instability" in the country.
He further said that the PDM also rejected the government's electoral reforms, which he claimed that the "entire world" had disapproved of, but the incumbent government was persistent in introducing.
"Electronic voting is a plan to steal elections," he said.
The PDM chief said the government had "taken away the jobs of thousands" of people, as it aims to bring reforms to make state institutions profitable. "The meeting expressed deep concerns over the unemployment and inflation in the country," he added.
Bilawal welcomes PDM in Karachi
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, a couple of days ago, termed the news of the PDM holding a jalsa in Karachi as welcome news, adding that his party had informed PDM leaders of doing things the constitutional way. He said it was the right of every political party to hold rallies.
He said that the PPP also desires to give a tough time to the PTI-led coalition government, adding that it has been opposing the regime since it came to power in 2018.
The PDM, a multi-party Opposition alliance, was formed on September 20, 2020 with a view to oust the PTI-led government.
After a successful first few weeks of campaigning, that saw mass rallies convene all across Pakistan, rifts began to emerge, around the time of the Senate elections.
At the forefront of the tensions are the PPP and PML-N — considered the two biggest Opposition parties in Pakistan — ever since PPP's Yousaf Raza Gillani was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
Gillani's appointment drew the ire of PDM, which said that the move was made without its blessing.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz maintains that at the time of the Senate chairman election, it was "decided" that with the PPP running for the seat, the PML-N will be given the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate position.
PPP, however, rounded up 30 senators to get its own candidate, Gillani appointed to the Opposition leader position.
The numbers comprised 21 senators from the PPP itself, 2 senators from the Awami National Party, 1 senator of the Jamaat-i-Islami, 2 independents from FATA and a group of 4 'independents' led by Senator Dilawar Khan that had broken away from the Balochistan Awami Party to support Gillani's candidature.
Over seeking the support of government allies (members of BAP), the PDM then issued show-cause notices to the PPP, as well as ANP, a move that was considered highly offensive by both parties and resulted in them quitting the alliance.
Mudslinging between both parties, following the break up, has continued and the rift seems to be widening over time.
In the NA-249 by-election in Karachi, the PPP and PML-N fielded their separate candidates with PPP's Abdul Qadir Mandokhel winning the race. PML-N accused the PPP of stealing the election.
PPP, in turn, demanded proof of the allegations and went so far as to name the PML-N as the "original selected" and "only second to PTI in its selectedness".
PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl faction, has on several occasions said he wishes to give PPP and ANP a chance to return to the fold.
In the latest report of him attempting to bridge the gap between the parties, it was said close to Eid-ul-Fitr, that the PDM chief may make an attempt to invite PPP and ANP back into the fold after Eid.
The PML-N president, too, in recent weeks was focusing his efforts on bringing the PPP and the ANP back, in order to more effectively put pressure on the government once again.
Shahbaz, ahead of the last major PDM meeting, in May, had said at a press conference: "No party has the right to bring or kick another party out [of the alliance]. PDM is a forum and decisions are taken with consensus."
On May 29, the alliance rejected the government's electoral reforms as "one-sided" and announced a fresh wave of protest rallies across the country.
On August 11, when the alliance met after a two-month hiatus, Fazlur Rehman declared the electronic voting machine as the "simplest way to rig elections".
Subsequently, on August 21, when its steering committee met, it announced a white paper against the government's three-year performance.