ISLAMABAD: An alliance of almost all major opposition parties, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), that seeks to remove the incumbent government will hold its first public meeting on October 11 in Quetta, opposition leaders announced on Tuesday.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said while addressing a press conference that the PDM’s three-phase plan will begin after the “historic” rally in Quetta and that it will be launched across the country.
The PDM was formed at the All Parties Conference (APC), where opposition parties had announced the launching of a three-phased anti-government movement under an “action plan” starting from next month with countrywide public meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies in December and a “decisive long march” towards Islamabad in January 2021.
“This movement will keep growing and will be successful in ridding Pakistan of this undemocratic process,” said Abbasi, accompanied by other opposition leaders.
During the meeting, the opposition leaders discussed rising inflation, unemployment, “historic corruption”, the state of the economy and people’s issues. Abbasi further said they strongly condemn the “shrinking” space for democracy in Pakistan.
“You will see that this movement will give rise to a true political change in Pakistan’s political history,” Abbasi said, adding that all opposition parties had consensus on the decisions taken today.
Another point on the agenda for the meeting was to give approval to PDM’s steering committee, which will comprise two members from each party. Abbasi added that this will play a role “in taking the PDM movement forward”.
The first meeting of this committee was held today and an “organisational structure” will be sent to the opposition parties’ leaders. After review of this structure, the details of the movement will be presented to the people.
The second meeting of the steering committee next Monday will decide the movement’s future strategy, Abbassi added.
The members of the steering committee will be rotated regularly, and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal will serve as its convener for the first month.
The announcement of the PDM rally comes just one day after PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a case regarding his alleged possession of assets beyond means and money.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Raja Pervez Ashraf said that “such tactics will weaken democracy and the anger and grievances of Pakistanis will rise” while referring to the arrest.
Pervez further said this arrest is proof of the “government-NAB nexus”, referring to the government ministers that predicted on television the arrests of various opposition leaders.
Ashraf said the Oct 11 rally will be followed by “a series of public meetings” in all provinces.
The meeting was expected to review the situation after Shehbaz’s detention and possible arrest of other leaders, the PTI government’s alleged plan to rig Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and local bodies polls and give a final shape to the decisions taken at the opposition’s September 20 multi-party conference (MPC).
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari did not attend the meeting.