MULTAN: Leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) will go to the Opposition coalition’s rally in Punjab on November 30 despite the PTI government’s “threats of legal action”, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said Sunday.
In a press conference alongside former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and PML-N’s Rana Sanullah, Fazl said all the leaders would reach the venue come what may and that the Multan rally would be held at all cost.
Earlier in the day, the PDM leadership held a consultative meeting at a JUI-F seminary to gauge the situation after the government of Punjab initiated a crackdown against party workers who had entered Multan’s Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh Stadium by breaking down the gates and removing containers blocking the route to the stadium.
‘This is state terrorism’
Fazl-ur-Rehman, the chief of the Opposition movement, lamented that their political workers were being arrested from Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan. “We wanted the movement to go smoothly, but due to the government’s stupidity, it will now speed up,” he said.
He said that the PTI government had forbidden PDM from holding a rally in Peshawar but regretted that the PTI then held its rally in Swat. “For us, [they cite] the threat of corona [virus] but they held a rally in Dir,” he observed.
Yesterday, over 30 Opposition workers — including Gilani’s son, Ali Qasim Gilani — were arrested in a late-night operation by the police to take back control of the stadium.
“The PDM will hold the rally tomorrow at the same venue at all cost and all the leaders will reach the venue despite government threats of legal action,” he said. “This is state terrorism.”
‘They have started a war’
The Opposition alliance has formulated a strategy to counter the PTI-led government’s action against them, Fazl underlined. “Every section of the country is upset and worried today,” he said.
“Political movements, arrests, and trials go hand in hand [and] we cannot be intimidated. We are not ready to accept the lawlessness in the country.”
Threatening to use force if the authorities stopped them, Fazl warned that “the flood of our people will sweep them away” if the government tried to stop the Multan rally.
“If they do not let us hold our rally, then every single district of Pakistan will transform into a rally ground. If our workers and participants cannot reach the rally, we will fill up the jails,” he said.
“They have started a war and now all our options are open; we are ready to fight in any case. We will reach Islamabad soon and put the government in its place,” Fazl-ur-Rehman underlined.
PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah, on the other hand, said his party’s vice president, Maryam Nawaz, will participate in the rally at all costs. She will “reach Multan at any cost and will do so by breaking all the barriers”, he said.
The PML-N leader underscored that the Opposition coalition did not start its movement with the permission of the PTI government and so does not need permission to exercise its democratic right of a protest.
Gilani claims eighth-grader taken away
Former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani said PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and his son, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, are ill and so PPP’s Aseefa Bhutto Zardari would address the rally on Monday in their stead.
He condemned the police highhandedness against the political workers.
“The government has already made our rally a success before it has even taken place,” he said.
Gilani claimed that police also took away an eighth grader.
Opposition ‘looted national wealth’
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a post on Twitter Sunday afternoon, lambasted the PDM for holding rallies and jalsas amid a worsening coronavirus situation in the country and the Opposition parties’ bid to save what he termed was “looted wealth & corruption”.
In a series of tweets, PM Imran said Pakistan was facing not only the COVID-19 pandemic but “a political leadership that has never gone through any democratic struggle” and was not well-versed with the challenges ordinary citizens experienced.
The premier criticised the Opposition leaders for lacking empathy and their families that “looted national wealth to further impoverish our masses”.
“Their desperation to get NRO any which way they can motivates them,” he said. “They want jalsas, not caring for the lives and safety of people. They think this is their last means of pressuring us for NRO — which will never happen,” he added.