Sunday Aug 29, 2021
FAISALABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill on Sunday criticised the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and said that despite running several movements since 2018, the alliance has failed.
Taking a jibe at the PPP and PML-N leadership, he said that during their election campaign in Gilgit Baltistan last year, Maryam Nawaz declared Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari her brother but later what happened between their parties is known to everyone. He was referring to PPP's decision to part ways with the multi-party alliance of the Opposition.
"They also faced a humiliating defeat in the Azad Kashmir election," Gill said, adding that while Maryam Nawaz championed the rights of women, the PDM barred women from attending its rallies.
"There are on-record statements issued by [PDM chief] Maulana Fazlur Rehman against women," he said.
Gill said that the Opposition resorts to making fun of Prime Minister Imran Khan whenever he initiates a project to alleviate the conditions of the poor.
Speaking about PDM's rally in Karachi on August 29 (today), Gill said that the intention behind holding the jalsa in Karachi is a campaign against the PPP.
"On the one hand, Fazl says the PDM has nothing against the PPP, and on the other hand, he says the PPP backstabbed the alliance," Gill questioned.
"The PDM is holding a jalsa in Karachi (where the PPP has a government) so it should clearly say that it has started a campaign against the PPP."
He went on to say that after repeated defeats and failure, the PDM should tell the media "what would be its future strategy."
Meanwhile, the Opposition alliance's chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, on Friday had said that the PPP had "stabbed the PDM in the back."
Fazl, speaking at a press conference in Karachi alongside Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and other political party leaders, had 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 had said, hitting out once more at the PPP, which is the ruling provincial party.
The PDM chief had clarified that 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.
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 ousting 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 breakup, 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.