- From Parliament to streets
The formation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement on Sunday could turn out to be a watershed event in the country’s politics. The PML-N and PPP wanted the PTI to complete its tenure while confining their role to parliamentary debate to critcise government policies. The way the opposition’s majority was tuned into minority in a Senate vote last year and then at the joint sitting of Parliament last week forced the opposition to meditate challenging the government in the streets also.
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is an alliance of about a dozen parties. It is like the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) created to fight military ruler Zia-ul-Haq and the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) against Gen Pervez Musharraf. Addressing the APC on Sunday, former PM Nawaz Sharif set the tone for the alliance. With PM Imran Khan repeatedly claiming that he was on the same page with the army, he encouraged politicians to question the army’s role and whether it was in consonance with the constitution. This was the theme of the speeches delivered at an APC called by Pakistan Bar Council. On Sunday former PM Nawaz Sharif maintained that his struggle was not against Imran Khan but those who brought him to power.
The PDM has announced a 26 point charter of demands which among other things seeks end of the establishment’s role in politics, production of missing persons, end of media restrictions, reduction in prices of commodities of everyday use and resignation of PM Imran Khan in 10 days followed by free and transparent elections.
The PDM has announced a line of action also. The alliance will hold joint rallies in all the four provinces next month. This will be followed by larger protests in the country in December and a long march to Islamabad in January. The possibility of a dharna has not been ruled out and would be decided upon at a suitable time. The option of resignations from National and Provincial Assemblies will be exercised if necessary
The forthcoming struggle will test the PDM’s maturity. One expects it to keep the movement peaceful and orderly. As the two major parties have a long history of mutual rivalry, they have a responsibility to do nothing that can split the alliance.