Sunday Aug 29, 2021
The Pakistan Democratic Movement, in its first power show in months on Sunday, at Karachi's Bagh-e-Jinnah, declared its campaign is very much alive, and called upon the people to "rise and bring a revolution".
The Opposition alliance said it will "bury the government with a tide of people that will storm Islamabad".
PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was the last to address the rally, said that the three-year performance of the PTI has revealed how the government has turned the state and the people "unsecure".
The PDM chief said that while other nations continue to progress, Pakistan "has only regressed".
"Of course, amid all this, we cannot sit quietly and idly by. We have sworn to raise Pakistan's ranks among the great nations of the world," he said.
Fazlur Rehman said that due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the COVID crisis, PDM's activities had undoubtedly been impacted, and people began to criticise how the movement has become silent, "but this sea of people, your enthusiasm bears witness that you are alive, the PDM is alive, and we will continue our journey forward without being stopped".
He said that the PDM reiterates that "this government is illegal".
"It has no mandate. It came into power through fake votes. They are seated in power with the use of force.
"We will combat them all, including those that support such imposed leaders upon us," the PDM chief said.
Fazlur Rehman reiterated the movement's stance that all governance must be in accordance with the Constitution, law and with the supremacy of parliament intact.
He said that annual growth target of 5.5% was given for the economy, which was raised to 6.5% for next year, "but this incompetent government dragged down the annual growth rate to below zero".
"This point or two percent that you speak of, is nothing but lies," he said to the government.
He said that in a household of five, when previously," three would be employed and two unemployed, but now four are unemployed and only one employed".
Fazlur Rehman also decried soaring prices of essential commodities, saying that recently when he spoke to a doctor, who owns a medical centre, himself is unable to buy medicines for his treatment.
"Was Pakistan made to serve such incompetent people?
"You must all rise and bring a revolution," he declared.
"There is no way other than bringing a revolution," he said, adding that PDM will "prove to the world it makes good on its pledges".
"I wish to tell you all, do not descend into hopelessness. A fish was asked how long it will continue to swim and it replied by saying until the sea has the strength to raise the tides, I will continue to have the strength to swim in these tides," the PDM chief said, in an attempt to inspire the people to act.
"Keep your hopes raised, your spirits up, this drive in you fueled. Cowardice is what infidels have. It is never a sign of a true momin," he added.
Moving on to foreign policy matters, he said that a nation can never make friends unless it aligns the interests of the world with its own objectives.
He said that when things were looking up for Pakistan, when the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) kicked off, and after 70 years of friendship with China, which is a great nation with veto powers at the United Nations, Imran Khan "isolated Pakistan" of other friends.
He said that although PM Imran Khan "sometimes makes anti-US remarks for show, he acted like an American agent and robbed us of friends, buried our economy and today we are isolated".
"And then the greed for the West out of which we sabotaged Chinese investments, they too abandoned us."
Fazlur Rehman said Pakistan has declared it will not allow the US the use of its military bases, "but you have opened up all your hotels to the Americans now", in reference to evacuations from Afghanistan that Islamabad has participated in, bringing in many foreign nationals, and granting them transit visas.
"We sold Kashmir off to Modi who does not wish to answer our phone call," he went on to say.
"And for the rest of Kashmir, he talks about a referendum. You do not even know the state policy for Kashmir," he said, in derision of the prime minister.
He said in Pakistan, in Gilgit-Balistan, in Kashmir elections, "votes were stolen and given to the PTI".
Fazlur Rehman also inquired where the funds promised for the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas, the now merged districts, had been spent.
He promised not only rallies, but road caravans and a march to Islamabad.
The PDM chief, speaking of the Afghan situation, urged the government to extend support to Afghanistan in view of their "general amnesty" and urged the global community to "make good on the deal they made", without imposing additional conditions.
"We wish for peace in the region and for good relations with our neighbours."
Prior to Fazlur Rehman, PML-N president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif addressed the gathering, decrying how Karachi and Balochistan had long been left neglected.
Speaking of the addresses delivered by Baloch leaders before him, which centered around the province's deprivations, Shahbaz said that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his party will "stand by them to get them their economic, social and legal rights".
He recalled how "Imran Niazi" had visited Karachi in March 2019 and promised a Rs162 billion development package for Sindh, and especially Karachi.
"And then, in 2020, when there was flooding due to heavy rains, Imran Niazi announced a Rs1,100 billion package again," Shahbaz said.
The PML-N president said that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told him that Sindh had agreed to contribute to the package, but the province has yet to see the funds released, with the exception of a "penny here and there".
Shahbaz said that the people are being "lulled into a false sense of security" with "false promises".
The former Punjab chief minister recalled how between 2013 and 2018, violence and terror had gripped Karachi with bodies routinely being found in gunny sacks and extortion was rife. "Such an atmosphere of fear was prevalent that people began shifting their businesses to Punjab," he said.
"But Nawaz Sharif (who was prime minister then) worked with institutions in the city, the provincial government and the businessmen, and developed a plan after which you saw the return of peace in Karachi and the families of businessmen returned.
"Today extortion has been eradicated from Karachi," Shahbaz said.
Shahbaz also recalled "hours-long loadshedding, daily wagers returning home to no fans and living in mental anguish, no smoke coming out of industrial chimneys, businesses wrapping up and agricultural fields drying up out of resource deprivation".
He said it was in the PML-N era that for the "first time in Pakistan's history", power projects were installed that generated 1,100MW of electricity.
"Now Karachi's lights once more shine bright, industries are working full throttle and livelihoods that were lost due to a shortage of power, have once more returned," he added.
Turning his guns back to PM "Imran Niazi", he said that "he would say that if the rupee slides down even by one unit versus the dollar, then the leader in power is corrupt".
"He would say if electricity costs rise, then the premier is corrupt, if inflation is on the rise, the premier is corrupt."
"Now you all tell me, has sugar become cheaper? Has flour become cheaper? Has electricity become cheaper? Has gas become cheaper?" he asked, to loud chants of "No!"
Shahbaz said that there "can be no greater injustice than to sit in a 300-kanal house" in Bani Gala and "speak of Riyasat-e-Madina".
He said PM Imran Khan is "leading people astray with his lies", adding that the premier travels from his home to his office "daily in a helicopter".
"What would he know of the burdens of the poor man, who longs for even a single meal?" he asked.
Shahbaz said that he is "not saying all this for the sake of making a speech". "Perhaps the people of Karachi would not know, because the PML-N did not have a government here but I can tell you medicines and treatment were free in Punjab."
"Laptops were distributed to students and education was made possible for low income families. Today they are doctors, engineers and are at high posts and are fully contributing in Pakistan's prosperity," he said.
He went on to state that the PML-N may have made the first metro bus in 2012 "but it was Karachi that had the right to get it first".
"It is the financial centre, contributes 68% revenue and like a mother is hosting people [from all over the country]. But it has been treated like a step-child."
He said a "tide of people will have to go to Islamabad and wipe out this storm of inflation". "We will go and bury this inflation and bury this government," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, PML-N leader Miftah Ismail assured Karachiites that Shahbaz Sharif will construct five metro bus projects in Karachi.
Miftah promised that a circular train would also be introduced in the city of lights.
Highlighting the sugar crisis, Miftah said that during Shahbaz Sharif’s government sugar was available at Rs55 per kg, meanwhile the essential commodity is now available at Rs110 per kg.
Speaking of the prices of wheat flour, he said when Nawaz was premier, he left the price at Rs25 per kg, and it is now Rs70 per keg.
He claimed Shahbaz Sharif had installed one of the cheapest power plants and no such power plant has been installed so far.
This is the first major rally without PPP, which has parted ways with the alliance. Fazlur Rehman, a day earlier, said that PPP "stabbed PDM in the back", and has now become "a thing of the past". Bilawal, today, in what appears to be a response to the remarks, said that PPP had been "cheated" by trusted friends, and will now only rely on its jiyalas. He said the party will stand on its own feet and do its own politics.
The anti-government Opposition alliance made big arrangements at the rally venue, which included a 25-foot tall, 75-foot wide stage.
A separate area for women attendees has been prepared, next to the stage.
A steady flow of participants continued to arrive at the venue. Interestingly however, women attendees were not seen much, despite protection promised by the PDM.
Stringent security measures were reported to be in place, with a large police presence, aside from the Razakar force.
The police contingent deployed at the venue includes 25 senior officers, 65 Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs), and 3,748 police personnel.
Women security personnel were also stationed there, with 30 of the total 93 belonging to the Special Security Unit (SSU) of Sindh Police.
The police encouraged people to report any suspicious activity immediately on the 15 police helpline.
Special arrangements were made for the flow of traffic around the Bagh-e-Jinnah area.
A day earlier, Fazlur Rehman announced multiple anti-government rallies nationwide, soon.
PDM had also earlier declared following a meeting of its steering committee on August 21 that a white paper will be issued on the three-year performance of the government.