| In fiery speeches, opposition leaders lace into PTI govt, demand accountability 

GUJRANWALA   -  The Opposition parties’ Pakistan Democratic Movement staged its first mass contact campaign in Gujranwala on Friday as a show of power against the incumbent PTI government which they claim has “failed in all sectors”.

The alliance was given permission to hold the rally on Thursday by the government after the Gujranwala District Administration and the PDM reached a 28-point agreement on how the Jalsa (procession) would be held.

JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman urged the people to come on roads to get rid of this government. He strongly criticised the government’s economic policies and said that no stone would be unturned to restore real democracy in the country. He said that no one would be allowed to create sectarian rift in the country. 

Earlier, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while addressing the rally said Pakistan’s economy is facing the worst crisis in its history because of unprecedented inflation and poverty in the country.

“People are even unable to afford two meals a day and situation is getting worse by day,” he said while blaming Prime Minister Imran for wreaking havoc in the country. Citing an example of prevailing crisis, Bilawal said, “This is the change brought by Imran and his selectors”.

While recalling that how his government dealt with multiple challenges in 2008, Bilawal lashed out at PM Imran, saying “he has only Tiger Force to resolve all issues.” The PPP leader claimed that the PTI-led government under the guise of anti-corruption drive is only victimising their political opponents and added that PM Imran and his sister, Aleema were not put behind when corruption allegations were levelled against them. “Who made the decision of Punjab chief minister? Was he selected by any magician or khalai makhlooq (alien)”. Bilawal said he knew for sure that CM Usman Buzdar was not the choice of the people of the province.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif said people from Lahore to Gujranwala are demanding PM Imran to resign. Referring to PM Imran’s recent visit to shelter home in Islamabad, Maryam says “tell him [PM Imran] that now people will not provide him refuge no matter what”.

She urged PM Imran to resign or “else people will throw you out”. She said only people of the country should have the authority to elect or topple any government. The PML-N stalwart said PM Imran boasted that state institutions of the country are on the same page. “He [PM Imran] must keep this in mind that it won’t take too long in turning the page.”

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Friday warned that the nation had been kept enslaved to the global establishment in total negation to the purpose of creation of Pakistan. 

“The country was not liberated from British monarchy to subjugate it to the global establishment, and the objective of PDM’s movement is to let Pakistanis take the ownership of Pakistan and not those who serve the interests of global establishment,” he said while talking to media before taking out a large motorcade from Jamia Ashrafia Friday evening to join PDM’s opening public meeting against PTI government in Gujranwala. He also led the Friday prayers and gave Friday sermon to a capacity packed mosque.

Accompanied by JUP secretary general Shah Awais Noorani besides the provincial and Lahore leadership of JUI-F, Maulana Fazlur Rehman led the caravan of highly charged and slogan chanting workers comprising jeeps, cars, trucks, vans, pick-ups and motorcycles from Jamia Ashrafia and made brief stops at different points where workers and supporters gathered to welcome him. 

Talking to media before departure, Maulana said the PDM’s movement is aimed at allowing masses to elect their true representatives who could provide relief to them by solving problems.

“Present parliament is not true representative of the masses as it was a product of rigging and brought to serve the interests of global establishment. Over the last two years the parliament has not made any legislation to ensure genuine rights to the masses and provide them basic necessities of life which had been denied to them for over seven decades,” he said, adding that “the only legislation this parliament has made so far is to only carry out global establishment’s orders in the cover of FATF.” He said the de facto rulers of the country brought their own choice of government and let it legislate for their own interests only.

He said PDM’s powerful movement against the selected government would begin from Gujranwala public meeting and under present circumstances it seemed the PTI government would not last beyond December. Asked if PDM was also waiting for umpire’s finger like Imran Khan had, Fazal said ‘let the existing finger be taken out, before we could talk of umpire’s finger.” Asked about Imran Khan’s insistence that main objective of PDM leadership was NRO, Fazal said the situation had changed now and it was Imran Khan, who seriously desiring NRO but the opposition was not ready to give him that.

To a question, he said the sit-in by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri was against a genuinely elected parliament, while PDM was protesting against a non-representative parliament. To another question about the differences in PDM over presidency, he said the alliance was made not for the sake of holding offices, but all component parties had in mind the restoration of genuine democracy, having rigging-free elections in the country to let the people have their say in the ruling. To a question as to whose party would brought bigger number of workers in the public meeting and why Maryam Nawaz was taking a separate rally, Fazal said Maryam Nawaz would join him along the route, adding that the impression of differences among PDM leadership was not correct as all the parties had a common objective of prime importance for the survival of the nation and well being of the masses.

To a question about PDM’s campaign was inappropriate at a time when sectarianism was increasing in the country, he said if genuine political process was restored and people were allowed to elect true representatives who run government affairs according to their wishes, every kind of sectarianism would die away quickly.

Earlier, addressing supporters before leaving for Gujranwala, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said the opposition would not sit idle till sending the selected Prime Minister home. 

“We have come out for the rights of the 220 million people and for the livelihoods of the poor, traders and labourers of Pakistan”, she said while addressing highly charged workers outside her Jati Umra residence. 

Maryam urged the people of Gujranwala to join the rally and asked law-enforcement agencies, police and the administration not to come in the way of the people. In a tweet, Maryam said she was embarking on this mission as Nawaz’s foot soldier.

“I have dedicated myself to your struggle, your mission for Pakistan and its people. May Allah be with us and may we return triumphant and victorious. Pakistan Zindabad,” she said while addressing the PML-N supremo who is also expected to address the rally from London through video link.