‘It’s time to go home’, Bilawal and Fazl tell PTI govt at Peshawar rally

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PESHAWAR:

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held its fourth power show on Sunday in Peshawar, despite being refused the permission to hold a public gathering by the local administration, citing an exponential rise in coronavirus cases.

The 11-party opposition alliance’s rally came amid the provincial government’s warning that it may lodge cases against them if a spike in virus cases was witnessed in the province after the rally.

A police command and control room was set up for the rally, whereas about 4,000 security personnel had also been deployed.

 

PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz left the venue soon after hearing the news of her grandmother’s demise.

She apologised to the crowd that she couldn’t address the rally and requested the political workers and supporters to pray for the departed soul and for swift recovery of her ailing father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

 

Maulana Fazlur Rehman

In his opening remarks, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman expressed sorrow over the death of Nawaz’s mother. “I want to offer my condolences to the Sharif family for the great loss,” he said.

The JUI-F chief said the attendance of K-P’s people in large number in this rally is a referendum against the PTI government and shows that people have “refused the government which came into power through rigged election”.

“We respect our armed forces as a defence institution, but if it tries to become a political institution then we have every right to criticise it… we give you a deadline to withdraw your support of the PTI-led government and focus on your professional responsibilities,” he remarked.

“Like people in the US rejected President Trump in elections, InshaAllah people [of this country] will also reject Pakistani Trump [Imran Khan].”

Giving an example of former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev, Fazl said PM Imran wanted to disintegrate Pakistan.

He said due to flawed foreign policy of the incumbent government, Pakistan’s ties with its allies are deteriorating and no country including UAE, Saudi Arabia and China among others was ready to trust Pakistan. “Today, Saudi Arabia and UAE are demanding Pakistan to return their money.”

The PDM chief also said that the Indian government revoked the autonomous status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) because PM Imran compromised on the Kashmir issue. “Imran Khan had prayed for the success of Narendra Modi in elections and he sold the Kashmir cause,” he claimed.

Fazl said the incumbent government is taking very “sensitive decisions” without taking the people of the country into confidence. “Nowhere in the democratic countries, political leaders have the right to change the geography of the country,” he said while referring to the government’s decisions of merging erstwhile FATA into K-P and making Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) a fifth province of the country.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said today’s rally was a referendum against the Prime Minister Imran Khan government from the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

“It is because of democracy and democratic government that the flag of Pakistan is hoisted in North Waziristan.”

Terrorists responsible for APS Peshawar attack, Bilawal said had received the NRO from this government.

“We will not allow the current government’s support to terrorists whose hands are red with the blood of the innocent,” said the PPP chief.

He vowed that PPP and PDM would never abandon the people of K-P unlike the current rulers of the “hybrid regime”.

It was the responsibility of the government to compensate the people of the tribal areas for their sacrifices, he said. “Even today number of missing people is increasing… there is a hole in the prevailing justice system. But I would like to salute late chief justice of Peshawar High Court Waqar Seth who upheld the law and pened down punishment against a dictator.”

The PPP chairman reiterated that the people were baring the burden of this “incomplete and selected” government.

“They are trying to take our right of NFC,” he said. “They have reduced at least Rs116 billion from your right. Imagine what could be done with that? Why don’t they pay royalty of your crude oil, gas? It is because they are not you representatives but are representatives of their selectors.”

Bilawal said that they only warn the people of the Covid-19 pandemic whenever there is a rally of PDM. They do not want to compensate the frontline workers.

Targeting the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Bilawal said that the anti-graft body could not see the corruption of province’s most expensive metro project [Peshawar BRT] and PTI’s the foreign funding case.

“They will go home in January,” he said. “Time is near when you, the people, would hold this selected government and its selectors responsible for current crises… Neither Pinidi nor Aabpara would decide the foreign policy but the people of this country.”

Other leaders

Addressing the Peshawar rally, other leaders of opposition parties that are a part of the PDM called for fair and transparent elections to be held in the country, again terming the incumbent government as a ‘selected’ one.

Qaumi Watan party chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, JUI-F provincial amir Siraj Mir and ANP’s Iftikhar Hussain and Amir Haider Khan Hoti among other leaders stressed on constitutional supremacy over everything else.

Referring to terrorism that has long plagued the K-P province, Hoti said, “We have had enough of being branded terrorists.” He said these wounds will have to be healed.

Balochistan National Party – Mengal’s (BNP-M) chief Akhtar Mengal also called for respecting the people of K-P and Balochistan and stop the practice of terming them ‘terrorists’.

The PDM’s central leadership reached the Peshawar rally venue after being hosted on a luncheon at the Bilour House – residence of the ANP’s famed Bilour family.

 

Having addressed previous PDM gatherings from London via video link, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif will not be addressing the Peshawar rally, apparently due to severe kidney pain. The news was confirmed by Maryam Nawaz in response to a tweet on Saturday.

 

The three-time former premier had excused himself from a PDM meeting held last week for the same reason.

Spokesperson for the PML-N’s K-P chapter, Ikhtiar Wali, while denouncing the roadblocks allegedly put in place on the way to the venue, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has become scared of the PDM’s rallies.

He added that today’s rally will be a referendum against the incumbent government, warning it to not ‘instigate violence’ or it will be the one responsible.

Opposition destroying peoples’ lives, livelihoods: PM Imran

Referring to the country’s Covid-19 data, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet on Sunday accused the opposition alliance of “callously destroying peoples’ lives and livelihoods”.

He said the PDM was “deliberately endangering the lives and livelihoods of people, bec if cases continue to rise at the rate we are seeing, we will be compelled to go into complete lockdown…”

 

In a video statement, K-P government spokesperson Shaukat Yousafzai, taking an apparent hit at the number of pople present at the venue, said, “I congratulate the pople of Peshawar for rejecting the opposition’s narrative”.

He said this was not a rally, but a conspiracy against the people of Pakistan.

‘Reckless politics’

The opposition’s alliance was denied the permission to organise today’s rally by the city administration on Friday.

The deputy commissioner in a statement said Covid-19 positivity rate has exceeded 13 per cent in Peshawar district which is “alarmingly high”.

Any large public gathering is likely to increase the spread of deadly virus, it added.

On Saturday, November 20, Prime Minister Imran Khan and several key federal ministers also criticised the opposition parties’ alliance for allegedly playing with the lives of common people by defying a government ban on its public gathering in Peshawar amid the second wave of the coronavirus.

The prime minister accused the opposition parties of playing reckless politics with people’s safety, saying earlier the opposition had favoured a stricter lockdown but they were now defying court orders and holding a rally when Covid-19 cases were on the rise.

“The same PDM mbrs [members] who had wanted a strict lockdown and criticised me earlier now playing reckless politics with people’s safety,” the premier tweeted, “they are even defying court orders & holding a jalsa when cases are rising dramatically.”

‘Politicising Covid’

The government’s ban on public gatherings came on November 16, a day after the Gilgit-Baltistan’s elections (G-B). Announcing the ban during a press conference, PM Imran said the decision was taken keeping in view the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in a fortnight.

Amid charged political scenario, the prime minister said that the government had suspended its rallies, which were planned earlier, in line with the National Coordination Committee (NCC) recommendations that call for ending all activities that don’t affect people’s livelihoods.

However, addressing a press conference in Peshawar, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman maintained that the government was using the issue of coronavirus as an excuse to stop the opposition from staging its public gatherings.

“This illegitimate government itself is a big corona,” the Maulana said. “We speak about Covid-19, but we should also highlight Covid-18,” he added, referring to the PTI government. “Getting rid of this government will be major relief for the nation.”

The JUI-F chief said the PDM would stage a historic rally in Peshawar and not allow its anti-government movement to lose steam at any stage.

Several opposition leaders slammed the government for the ban’s timing, saying the threat of the virus spreading was equally significant when it [the government] was holding its own G-B electioneering rallies.

Addressing a press conference in Gilgit on Thursday, PPP chairman Bilawal said that the Sindh government was the first to announce measures to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak, and it was the prime minister who made them controversial.

“We have to send Imran Khan packing because he has failed on every front, be it Kashmir or Covid-19. The PTI government does not have the capacity to deal with these issues,” he maintained.





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