ISLAMABAD - Top opposition parties leaders yesterday vowed to send the federal PTI-led government packing as they pledged to stand united to achieve the goal.

Pakistan People’s Party leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari together with Pakistan Muslim league (Nawaz) leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif spoke at an opposition’s All Parties Conference hosted here by the PPP. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maualan Fazlur Rehman among others also participated.

The APC marked return of Nawaz Sharif to the politics after about a year’s absence and amid the federal government’s struggle to bring him back from the United Kingdom to face the corruption references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau.

Speaking at the APC, PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said that the opposition will send this government packing and will restore democracy.

“We had not accepted this fake government from the start. We tried hard to save democracy in the last two years but it does not seem that this government has any intention of restoring democratic institutions,” he said.

Zardari urged the participants to give such a strategy that can help establish real democracy because the basis of every country is its democracy and the prosperity comes after this.

“We are the voice of every nation in Pakistan from Baloch to Punjabi, and from Pakhtun to South Punjabi within the framework of Pakistan. We want to progress with the entire Pakistan. We have not gathered here to only send this government packing but to establish real democracy afterwards,” he added.  

Zardari said the parliamentarians had constructed a protective wall around the Constitution through the 18th Amendment, and now nobody can harm the Constitution.

Congratulating the organizers and participants of the APC, he said the success of this APC is apparent by the tactics of the government being used against this APC.

“We do not need PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) to raise our voice for the people because people are listening to us, they can ban our speeches on television but in an era when even a child from Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan can raise his voice through social media. This regime does not realize that putting the media in chains is now impossible,” he maintained.

Zardari prayed for the health of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and welcomed Maryam Nawaz in the APC and said that Maryam has also gone through difficulties and was imprisoned like Benazir Bhutto.

“The pygmies and selected do not have any regard for the constitution but this constitution was drafted by very visionary and farsighted people and the 18th Amendment is a measure to restore the 1973 constitution. It is very probable that after this speech and the APC, he will be the first man to go to jail,” he said.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the opposition does not have a level-playing field in the media, courts and even in the parliament.

“This was not the vision of the founders of the nation. We have gathered here to form a strategy for the future because in the last two years, the PTI government has troubled the common people of Pakistan,” he said.

Bilawal said that the people of Pakistan were waiting for a substantial outcome from this APC, not ordinary resolutions or mere statements.

“The people of Pakistan want freedom which is guaranteed by the constitution and the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” he added.

The PPP chief said that without democracy in the country, the economic rights of the people are trampled by anti-democratic forces.

“We can see the result of this government which has stalled economic growth, increased inflation and price hike, and with this lack of democracy, the society has weakened. The crimes in the country are on the increase while the law and order situation is worsening. We need elected people so that the voices of the weak are heard,” he said.

Bilawal alleged the government had left people abandoned at the mercy of natural disasters, pandemic and difficult times. “This government has targeted our doctors, nurses and our paramedics during the times of Covid-19. People have lost their homes in one of the worst floods in the country, which is why every stratum of the society is protesting,” he said.

The people, he added, had been usurped of their right to present their narrative in the media. He said the elected representatives were not allowed to talk in the joint session of the parliament and the government refused to count the votes of the Parliamentarians.

The PPP chief said that at the APC there were the people who had struggled for democracy and peoples’ rights in Movement for Restoration of Democracy and the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy.

“We all have seen dictatorships and controlled democracy in Pakistan and this is the time to demand real democracy. This is our responsibility to unite and struggle for real democracy. This is the time to make a new Charter of Democracy and to take it to people from Balochistan to Azad Kashmir and the rural areas,” Bilawal said.

He added: “If we are not allowed to spread this message through the media, then we would have to go door to door and transform the peoples’ support into our strength. We have to challenge not only this government but its facilitators from the streets.”

 The PPP leader said that the nation cannot give hope to the people until it obtains freedom from the rulers. He said that every decision taken in this forum will be pursued till the end. “If we have to pay sacrifices to get freedom for our people, we will do so,” he said.

In his speech, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said the government had failed in every aspect and PM Imran Khan has left poor people on the mercy of the floods.

Four million people in the country have lost their jobs, free medicines are no longer provided in hospitals, price of sugar has crossed Rs 100 and price of wheat is record high during the first two years of the current government, he claimed.

Shehbaz Sharif said that dictatorships in the country’s history put a black mark on everything including democracy.

About the 2018 elections, he said: “Remember when a government came into power and the prime minister promised the nation that the discrepancy in the elections, the disappearance of the RTS system, and the pre-engineering of election results would be investigated.”

Shehbaz Sharif claimed that the committee formed to investigate had not made even ‘an inch’ of progress.

Speaking on the occasion, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman proposed resignations from the assemblies and immediate dissolution of the Sindh Assembly.

He said that the decision regarding resignation from the assemblies should be taken. The JUI-F chief said the “bottom line is that he no longer believes in verbal claims adding that instead of verbal claims, the opposition parties would now have to talk in writing.”

Fazlur Rehman said that the restrictions have been imposed on media that they were not broadcasting our speeches and gatherings of millions of people.

Earlier, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif also addressed the participants, marking a political comeback after more than a year.

Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan had become a laboratory of experiments and every child knew that no prime minister had been allowed to complete five years in power.