–Maryam says Imran’s speech showed ‘a man screaming his defeat’
–Bilawal says ‘one-man government’ cannot bring forth democracy
–Fazl says PDM aims to to restore a ‘free, democractic atmosphere’
KARACHI: The anti-government alliance continues to show its street power with its second rally taking place in Karachi where Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was joined by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman.
The PPP hosted the second Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally at Bagh-e-Jinnah in Karachi on Sunday. Fazlur Rehman was the first to arrive in Karachi, and Maryam joined the other leaders of the PDM later.
Furthermore, MNA Mohsin Dawar also arrived in Karachi to attend the rally along with supporters and workers of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) group on the invitation of the PPP chief. Dawar had not attended the first rally of the opposition alliance.
Maryam began her speech by thanking the PPP for giving her warm welcome, and commending the provincial government for its handling of the resurging Covid-19 pandemic amidst humiliation and taunts by the federal government.
Responding to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech during the Tiger Force Convention a day earlier, Maryam subverted the premier’s slogan of ‘ghabrana nai hai’ and said the PM was scared after just one rally. “Yesterday, you must have seen on your TV screens a man screaming his defeat,” she said.
She went on to remark that the premier was showing fear in his words and actions, and that he should learn how to be graceful from Nawaz Sharif.
“You [PM Imran] addressed empty chairs, dug democracy’s grave, [and yet] Nawaz Sharif never took your name. Even today, you will long for it but Nawaz Sharif will not even take your name, because children have no role in the fight between elders,” she said.
She replied to the premier’s claims of banning PML-N by saying that Nawaz’s party was the biggest party of Pakistan, and that it held the will of the masses. She defended the actions of Nawaz, including the PML-N supreme leader’s statement that Justice Shaukat Aziz and Justice Qazi Faez Isa should not be punished for following the law.
Regarding the way Nawaz had been taking shots at state institutions, Maryam said that the PML-N supremo had only drawn “a line between the institution and characters”. Maryam said Nawaz was not speaking against the soldiers who laid their lives on the line for this country, but “one or two people” that can “cause heavy losses to that institution.”
“We cannot respect those who violate their oaths,” said Maryam. “Is Nawaz wrong in saying that army shouldn’t interfere in politics?” she asked.
She also lambasted PM Imran for declaring the opposition as traitors, further claiming that Imran was praying for Modi’s election and that the premier “gave him Kashmir on a plate”. Furthermore, she called the premier a “coward” who hid behind the armed forces.
Bilawal, in his speech, lashed out at PM Imran for “betraying” the people of Karachi. “You must have heard of the Rs1,000 billion,” he said. “Out of that Rs300 billion is from Sindh’s ADP [Annual Development Programme] and Rs100 billion is from the ongoing projects from the tenures of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif,” he claimed.
He also demanded that the Pakistan Island Development Authority (PIDA) ordinance be withdrawn, urging his senators to pass a resolution at the next Senate session.
Bilawal accused the country of becoming more fascist, and said that the premier must have done some sort of deal on Kashmir. “He [PM Imran] claimed to be the ambassador of Kashmiris, but now he has become the lawyer of Kulbhushan,” he said in reference to the Indian spy.
“This incapable and clueless prime minister will have to go home,” said Bilawal.
“Today, innocent people are being killed, going missing and our state is involved in this,” he alleged. “Education, health budgets are being cut but this puppet government does not care because it did not come from people’s votes.”
The PPP chief said this “A one-man government” cannot bring forth democracy, and that PM Imran had ignored the poverty and hunger of the people of Pakistan.
“Today we are fighting the same powers who want shut down the poor’s stove, who want to imprison people who ask for their rights, who come to power not through people’s votes but through non-democratic forces. Once again these forces are uniting and we have to fight them, we have to fight them everywhere, in parliament, in the streets, even in prison,” said Bilawal.
Regarding the PM’s claims of banning the speeches, the PPP chief said that they would speak in the streets, adding that the masses could not be silenced.
Summing up his speech, he said that the PDM’s aim was a government that was “made by people’s votes and not selectors”.
Fazl, in his speech, spoke of PDM’s aims as well. He said that the movement aims to to restore a “free, democractic atmosphere” and to ensure the survival of the state.
“No amendment will be accepted which would reduce the rights of the people,” he said. “If the people of Sindh do not want, no one can dare to divide Sindh.”
He said that it is “not conscionable to recognise this government”.
Earlier, Dawar, who was the first speaker at the rally, called the 11-party alliance the start of real democracy in Pakistan. He called out the incumbent government for repeatedly filing “baseless cases” against political workers all across the country. Dawar further said that the incumbent government was “worse than a dictatorship”.
“In reality, the decision makers are Pakistan Army and its agencies,” he declared, adding that the people should be treated as citizen, and not “slaves” of the state.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Ameer Haider Khan Hoti spoke next, and said “Imran selected Khan, ask the poor what happens when their electricity bills come, the price of food commodities, how they are buying medicines”. He also asked whatever became of the premier’s claim of creating “1 crore jobs”
In response to Asad Umar, who had earlier said Nawaz was trying to obtain an NRO through these rallies, Ameer said that the PDM’s only goal was “to look for solutions to problems such as the economy, the NFC award, protection of the 18th amendment, powers of institutions, protection of the Constitution and most of all the supremacy of parliament.”
The next speaker was Mehmood Khan Achakzai of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), who said they were not here to insult people or hurl profanities, but to take steps in forming “a Muslim state, where there would be justice, where power would rest with parliament, where the Constitution would be supreme and people would be independent.”
He went on to point out how the premier had directed the PDM not to talk about state institutions but had himself bragged about how the army was keeping them safe. Achakzai said it was the army’s duty to keep the country safe, and that it was the same in the US, Germany, and Russia.
“We are not mad. We do not want to disrespect our forces,” he said, but added that the army should stay within its sphere of responsibility. “[The army] will have to give us their word that they will stay within the ambit of the Constitution.”
Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) leader Akhtar Mengal, in his speech, attempted to subvert the usage of the word traitor, saying that anyone who tries to come into power is branded as such.
“After all these rallies, so many supporters of their leaders will be declared traitors. Who will remain a patriot here?” he asked. Answering his own question, the BNP-M leader said, ““Only those who labelled Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah a traitor, who opposed the reversal of one unit and started movements against it, those who always licked the boots of military dictators.”
Unlike the first rally, PML-N supremo Nawaz did not address the Karachi jalsa.
The PPP had been handling the arrangements of the second rally since Saturday, with 1,500 workers volunteering to control the flow of traffic, make seating arrangements at the park, and ensure the coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) are duly followed.
Bilawal paid a visit to the park earlier to check on the arrangements. He was accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Sindh Education and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani. The PPP chairman was briefed about the arrangements and preparation for the public meeting.
On Friday, the first PDM rally had taken place in Gujranwala, and this event had been called a ‘failed show of power’ by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) -led federal government. In response, the PML-N vice president had said, “The government is unable to see things right now, but it will all be clear to them in a few days”.
Furthermore, on her way to the airport, Maryam had echoed her father’s statements, wherein he said this ‘game’ was above the current premier, and that Prime Minister Imran Khan “should stay out of it”.
Earlier, the PML-N leader had offered Fateha at the Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s grave before making her way to the venue of Sunday’s jalsa. She was accompanied by PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair, Captain retired Muhammad Safdar, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.