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Pakistan's opposition parties demanded 'immediate resignation' of PM Imran Khan

September 21, 2020 08:49 AM

Our foremost priority should be government and this system: Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad / London 

September 20, 2020
After hours of discussion over ways to overthrow the "selected" government, opposition parties at the much-hyped PPP-hosted multiparty conference on Sunday demanded the "immediate" resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to a 26-point resolution passed by the multiparty conference, the forum is named Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — an "alliance structure which will lead and guide nationwide protests against the anti-public and anti-nation government in a disciplined and integrated manner".

The resolution, read out by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a press conference held after multiparty conference late on Sunday evening, stated that the current government has been granted "fake stability by the same establishment" that interfered with the elections to bring the incumbent rulers to power. It expressed "extreme concern" over the increasing interference of the establishment in internal affairs of the country and regarded it as a "danger to the nation's stability and institutions".

The forum also demanded that elections be held again in a transparent manner and that electoral reforms should be passed in order to ensure free and fair polls.

Terming the Parliament a "rubber stamp", the PDM declared that the opposition will not cooperate with the government in the legislative process.

It also demanded that a new law of accountability be passed in the country that is in accordance with the Supreme Court's verdict and recommendations from Human Rights Watch and Council of Islamic Ideology and would hold everyone accountable, including bureaucrats, lawmakers, judicial and army officials.

In particular, the PDM resolution said that claims made in a recent news report regarding retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa's assets and family business should be probed. The forum said that Bajwa should be removed as the chairman of CPEC Authority until the investigation is completed.

PDM also agreed upon a six-point action plan to depose the incumbent government, which would be implemented in phases. In the first phase that starts in October, opposition parties will hold joint rallies in all four provinces.

The second phase will begin in December of this year, during which the opposition will hold "huge public demonstrations" across the country. In January next year, the opposition will set out on a "decisive long march" towards Islamabad.

The opposition will also enlist lawyers, traders, farmers, students, media as well as members of the civil society in its movement. In order to oust the government, opposition parties will use "every legal and constitutional option in and out of parliament, which include moving no-confidence motions and collective resignations from assemblies at an appropriate time, " the resolution states.

'Non-political establishment'
Responding to questions during the press conference, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the PDM wants a "non-political establishment" as the Constitution does not allow the establishment to be involved in political matters of the country.

PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif, in his statement at the press conference, said that the incumbent government's survival is a "threat to Pakistan's existence".

Meanwhile,   PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif on Sunday, while addressing the much-hyped PPP-hosted multiparty conference in Islamabad, said that the opposition's struggle was not against Prime Minister Imran Khan but those who brought him into power through the 2018 elections.

He was addressing the conference, aimed at devising a strategy to oust the PTI-led coalition government, via video link from London. The speech marked the deposed prime minister's political comeback after more than a year. He has been in the UK since November last year for medical treatment.

"Today, our struggle is against those who installed Imran Khan and who manipulated elections to bring an incapable man like him into power and thus, destroyed the country." "If change is not brought, it will bring irreversible loss to this country. It is very important that our armed forces stay away from our governmental system according to our Constitution and the Quaid's speech, and not interfere with the people's choice. We have made this country a joke in our own eyes and internationally as well."

Prior to a recess for lunch, the speakers — PML-N's Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif and PPP's Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — were united in underscoring the "need for a plan of action".

"I am thankful to the organisers of the conference for giving me the opportunity to talk. Even though I am away from my country, I know very well what condition the country and the people are in. I believe this is a decisive turn; it is necessary to protect democracy [...] and take fearless decisions."

In an all-encompassing speech, which centred on criticising the Imran Khan-led government, Nawaz spoke on the "poor state" of Pakistan's economy, "deteriorating" international relations, "muzzling" of media and "corruption within the PTI and Bani Gala".

"The country's leader keeps harping on about accountability but he himself is involved in raising sugar prices. Will no reference be filed against him?"

He also repeated the opposition's allegation that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), with the connivance of PTI, was carrying out only "selective accountability".

"If we don't do it [take a step] today, when will we?" asked Nawaz.

"I agree with Maulana [Fazlur Rehman, chief of JUI-F] that we need to make this conference purposeful or people will be disappointed.

"Pakistan has been constantly deprived of a democratic system [...] When the vote is dishonoured, the entire democratic system becomes meaningless. When it is decided before the election process as to who will win and who will lose, then it can be guessed how the public is betrayed and how the public's mandate is stolen."

Pakistan has become a laboratory of "such experiments", added Nawaz. "Every child knows that no prime minister has been allowed to complete five years in power."

All dictators have spent multiple years while premiers have hardly been allowed to complete their term, he said.

"When a dictator was first brought into the courtroom for violating the Constitution, you saw what happened. Court gave dictators the right to play with the Constitution and acquitted someone who broke the Constitution twice [...] Whereas the ones who follow the Constitution are still in jail."

Nawaz said former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani once pointed to "a state within a state" in Pakistan. "It is saddening that the situation has escalated to a state above the state. This parallel government illness is the root-cause of our problems."

Speaking about the 2018 elections, he said the primary reason for the current problems were those people who "hijacked the people's mandate by putting inexperienced people in power". "This is a violation of the Constitution. Has anyone given a thought to what a grave crime it is to steal the people's mandate?"

Nawaz alleged the government has enforced a "martial law" . "Criminals are allowed to make amendments to the Constitution [...] the people's premier is expelled and his family is insulted.

"This conference should bring forth a concrete plan of action for saving democracy, a concrete policy should be made for solving the problem of 'a parallel state'.

"I again urge this all-party conference to go beyond its traditional ways and form a plan of action."

Opening remarks by Zardari
Former president Asif Ali Zardari delivered the opening speech at the PPP-hosted multiparty conference through video link. — Screengrab
Former president Asif Ali Zardari delivered the opening speech at the PPP-hosted multiparty conference through video link. — Screengrab
Earlier, former president Zardari delivered the opening speech at the multiparty conference, also through video link.

Zardari thanked Nawaz Sharif for virtually attending the conference and asked everyone to pray for the former prime minister's health. Both Zardari and Nawaz, who are facing corruption cases, are currently out on bail on account of their health.

In his remarks, Zardari criticised the government over what he called were "tactics" to suppress the opposition and media.

He welcomed Maryam, PML-N vice-president and daughter of Nawaz Sharif, and said he was happy to see her at the conference. "We have seen the difficulties she has faced and we can understand because my own sister has gone to jail and my wife went to jail [...] We pay tribute to her and we are with you, and will keep fighting for your cause and you will keep fighting for ours, I am sure."

- Courtsey Dawn

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