The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) began its countrywide protest campaign against the incumbent government by holding a maiden power show in Gujranwala on Friday, which the opposition termed a “decisive referendum against the incompetent” rulers.
The PDM, comprising around a dozen opposition parties on a joint platform to urge obviate the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, was formed last month and had planned six big rallies across the country until December to force the govt to call fresh elections.
Top leaders of all major parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice chairman Maryam Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PDM president and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman, were present at the gathering held at Jinnah Stadium.
Fazl was the last to succeed in the venue. before him, Maryam reached the stadium followed by Bilawal. Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif also joined the rally via a video link from London, because the leaders continued their speeches.
Thousands of policemen were deployed at the venue for security reasons. The venue was decorated with flags and banners of all opposition parties, where tens of thousands of the opposition supporters were shouting “Go Imran go. some time is up!”
In their addresses, the heads of the PDM constituent parties fired a broadside against the govt and particularly made Prime Minister Imran Khan the target of their trenchant criticism, accusing him of failure in fulfilling the guarantees he made to the people before the 2018 elections.
Addressing the rally from London, deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, continuing together with his aggressive rhetoric, fired a broadside not only against the prime minister but also against the establishment for stealing public mandate.
Speaking to a jam-packed stadium, Sharif, who was the primary of the most opposition leaders to deal with the roaring crowd, said, “This incompetent government has made lives of the masses miserable.”
“Prices of commodities like sugar and floor have doubled in only two and half years of Imran Khan’s tenure. Medicines and medical treatment is now out of the common man’s reach. But who should we hold responsibility, the incompetent bunch or those who brought Imran to power.”
He said that in his 35-year career, he has found the PTI to be the foremost corrupt government. “They weren’t only corrupt but also massively incompetent- who have failed on all fronts, let it’s economic or diplomatic.”
He said that Imran cannot escape with billions spent on Bani Gala and Zaman Park residences just with an NRO given by former Supreme Court judge Saqib Nisar. Sharif also said that Imran will need to account the foreign funding case and for allowing sugar export despite its shortage.
He asked the masses on who should be held in charge of the people’s problems, “Prime Minister Imran Khan or those that brought him” to power by “rigging” the 2018 elections. He told the people to not be afraid anymore to seek out out who was liable for their problems.
The PML-N vice chairman in her speech mentioned herself because the voice of each Pakistani, who couldn’t represent themselves against the ruling PTI.
“I have brought the case of labourers to you today. I even have brought a case against the judiciary and media,” Maryam said, adding that the govt had snatched the media’s freedom of speech.
“The media who wanted to support the reality was caught by NAB [National Accountability Bureau] or fired,” she said.
Criticising the PTI government, Maryam said that the people that don’t respect vote, “their condition remains unstable”.
“When the vote isn’t respected, this is often the condition of the people,” said the PML-N leader, pointing towards high inflation.
“Cases were lodged against us and that we were threatened. the govt blocked routes but it couldn’t do anything.”
In his address, Bilawal criticised the ruling PTI, saying that the incumbent government has broken all records of corruption and demanded across-the-board accountability.
On skyrocketing inflation, the PPP chairman said, “The PTI talks about change and therefore the change is that eggs now cost Rs200 per dozen and potatoes Rs100 per kilo.”
The JUI-F chief, also the top of the PDM, expressed serious concerns, saying that the govt is talking about giving Gilgit-Baltistan a standing of a province but if “we occupy G-B and forcefully making it a neighborhood of Pakistan, will that not justify the annexation of IIOJK”.
As per the Supreme Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said, G-B may be a a part of AJK and furthermore as per the map “we have submitted to the United Nations Security Council , G-B may be a a part of AJK.
“Will G-B’s annexation not violate the 2 Security Council resolutions?”
He said that creating geographical changes has also been an America agenda that has decimated countries for not accepting their supremacy, including Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
Other leaders, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Prof Sajid Mir, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, said that the PTI government was liable for the deterioration of the country’s economy that led to very difficult living conditions of the overall masses.
Earlier, the workers and supporters of several opposition parties waited for his or her leaders’ arrival. PML-N leaders, Khawaja Asif, Khurram Dastagir, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Javed Hashmi were present there to stay the gang buoyant.
The leaders came to Gujranwala, leading big caravans. They spoke to the media also as party supporters on the way.
On Friday, the PDM rallies passed peacefully from Lahore. For the previous couple of days, the Lahore police had been busy in raids to arrest the political activists. The police had also impounded dozens of containers and placed them at prominent places, mainly the environment of Jati Umra, the residence of the Sharif family.
However, things remained normal within the Punjab capital. Moreover, the arrested PML-N activists were also released after the reported negotiations and finalisation of terms and conditions with the govt authorities.
In its undertaking, the PML-N affirmed that no welcome points and receptions would be found out on GT Road for security and convenience of the overall public. Yet, on the brink of a dozen welcome camps were found out from Lahore to Gujranwala that resulted in disruption of traffic on the highway.
Also, the undertaking regarding ensuring a secure distance between two seats and a secure distance even otherwise between the participants was also nowhere to be seen. Similarly, the condition of wearing face masks by the rally participants was also ignored.