Sunday Oct 17, 2021
PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz on Saturday told the nation that the time for them to decide their future and to change their fate is"now", as she sought their support to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Addressing a Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally in Faisalabad's Dhobi Ghat ground, Maryam said the people were fully aware of how PM Imran Khan had "disrespected the vote's sanctity".
The PML-N vice-president said the prime minister had fulfilled only one promise — that he would "make everyone cry" — and today, "the entire nation is crying".
Maryam spoke of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who is in London and has been declared an absconder by Pakistani courts, saying that he has "left everything in the hands of God".
"When a person leaves their matters to God [...] no matter how powerful one is, or how they say they are on 'one page' [with others], historic defeat, historic humiliation, historic disgrace becomes the fate of the oppressors," she said.
"So tell me now. Has God not made Nawaz Sharif's opponents a warning to all?"
A grim-faced Maryam at one point asked the organisers to turn down the music.
"Nawaz Sharif called me and told me to express his grief on his behalf [...] whenever the people are in trouble, Nawaz cries tears of blood," Maryam said.
Slamming the prime minister over the power crisis, she said the country faces a shortage of electricity in the summer and a shortage of gas in the winter.
Maryam said the country was experiencing a power shortage as the government had purchased expensive LNG.
The PML-N leader claimed PM Imran Khan used the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for political revenge, and when it was time for his own accountability, he amended the law.
Maryam said PM Imran Khan's party — PTI — has ranked "number 1" in the recently leaked Pandora Papers. "The nation was told Imran Khan's name isn't included in the list [...] have you ever heard that the leader of a pack of thieves was an honest person?" she asked.
"You cannot save yourself from accountability," Maryam told the premier.
She recalled how once PM Imran Khan had remarked that when wheat flour becomes expensive, it is a sign the country's ruler is "corrupt".
The PML-N leader then had a party worker open up a banner that read that when the prices of electricity and petrol increase, "it means the prime minister is a thief".
Maryam said that it was said of Nawaz Sharif that he reads from a paper when delivering an address in front of foreigners. "But look at him (PM Imran Khan). Even while reading out from a paper, he makes mistakes."
She said that in Nawaz's time investment was booming and projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was progressing rapidly.
Speaking of foreign policy matters, Maryam said that things are dismal on that front as well with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi "not answering" the prime minister's call, while US President Joe Biden has not even called the premier yet.
"People on American television channels remark that Imran Khan's real authority is no greater than that of the Islamabad mayor," she said.
Venturing back into the territory of Nawaz's rule, she said that "whenever he took a stand, it was for the people of Pakistan".
"The government will fall flat on its face and we can already see it is about to do so," she said.
She said PM Imran Khan would be well advised to not try and be a "political martyr".
Hailing Nawaz's political foresight, she said that the former prime minister had remarked four years ago that "Imran Khan is one who bites the hand that feeds it".
"Today, the ones who were keeping him fed have learnt a lesson the likes of which cannot fully be expressed in words," she remarked.
Speaking of the government's recent statement, whereby Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry had remarked that the prime minister has the prerogative to appoint the Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), she said that it may very well be his prerogative to do so, but "electing the prime minister is the prerogative of the people".
"The people should first choose their own prime minister and then he may decide what to do," she said, adding: "Imran Khan is not an elected leader; he is selected."
Maryam, in a rare show of willingness to work with the government, remarked that the Opposition would have stood by it, "had Imran Khan adopted a democratic stance".
"This stand that they have taken is not for the sake of principles, it has been taken to further attack the Constitution," she alleged.
She asked why a nation of 220 million should support the current regime, when the government, under the guise of a democracy, was in fact running a "dictatorship".
"We would have stood with you, had you not disrespected the parliament," she added.
Speaking on the occasion, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the Opposition alliance aims to make Pakistan a peaceful country.
"The PDM will hold you [the government] accountable," he said, adding that the Opposition has challenged "dictators and their follower" before.
The JUI-F chief questioned the PTI-led government over its move to drop a "petrol bomb" on the nation, asking what the fault of the common man was that they had to do such a thing.
"Today, the survival of states depends on the economy," Fazl said, adding that an economic war has once again begun around the world.
The government has "destroyed" the economy of Pakistan, he said.
The PDM chief stated that the Parliament, which represents the people, has been rendered "unstable". "What role will the parliament play when the people of Pakistan are forced to commit suicide?" he asked.
Shedding light on Pakistan's foreign relations with other countries, he said that Pakistan has "infuriated China" while the US and Europe also did not help and Afghanistan cannot help.
"Iran is on India's side, and our neighbouring country [India] is threatening our very existence," he added.
Fazl asked: "You made a deal for Kashmir. How do you consider yourself a representative of the people?"
"How long will you [Imran Khan] do politics by calling everybody else a thief?"
The PDM chief termed PM Imran Khan's promise to provide one million job a "foolish act."
PML-N's Talal Chaudhry addressed the gathering earlier.
"The PTI says they will [get elected] for another 5 years," he said.
"The difference between three and a half years ago and today's Pakistan is plain for all to see," Chaudhry added.
The PML-N leader went on to state that PM Imran Khan "neither cared about his honour or that of those who brought him".
Speaking of party supremo Nawaz Sharif, who served as prime minister thrice, he said that he "put an end to terrorism".
He also spoke of Nawaz bringing an "end to loadshedding" and putting Pakistan on the "path to progress".
Qaumi Watan Party General Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Jadoon also addressed the rally.
"An inflation bomb was dropped on the people once again last night," Jadoon said, referring to a hike in the power tariff announced by the government.
Former Chief Minister of Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch, too, addressed the gathering.
He said that inflation and unemployment will "destroy the country", and injustices with certain provinces will "weaken it".
Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai, in his address, said that the only way to govern the country is under a democratic system.
"We desire a country where the Constitution reigns supreme," he said, adding that Pakistan is in a "very poor state" right now.
As she made her way to the venue, Maryam shared several videos showing off the PML-N's street power in Punjab. The videos showed a large number of supporters gathered to welcome her as she passed by.
Her husband, retired Captain Safdar, Pervez Rasheed and party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb reportedly travelled with her.
Captioning one, she wrote: "Love for Nawaz Sharif."
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif did not attend the rally as he still has back pain due to a recent fall, leaving Maryam to represent the party at the rally.
Sources told The News JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, in his recent meeting with Shahbaz in Lahore, requested him to attend the public meeting.
“Shahbaz Sharif informed Fazl he was feeling a bit better, but he might take some time to [rest further] to get rid of the pain,” the sources said.
The sources said senior party members have asked Shahbaz to attend the public meeting through a video link.
They predicted Maryam is likely to make a hard-hitting speech that may again perturb the party's senior leaders.
A senior PML-N member told The News requesting anonymity: “No doubt there is a difference of opinion in our party but it is actually is a difference of opinion on strategy. Our goal and destination is the same and we are struggling for rule of the Constitution and respect for the vote.”
He said Maryam would deliver a speech on behalf of the people to represent their feelings and emotions "because they want respect for the vote they cast in the general elections”.