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

Maryam leaves the rally after hearing news of her grandmother’s demise in London

Statesman Report

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.

In a tweet, Maryam regretted the government’s attitude following the demise of her grandmother.

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 KP’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”.

“Like people in the US rejected President Trump in elections, … 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 the UAE, Saudi Arabia and China among others was ready to trust Pakistan. “Today, Saudi Arabia and the 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 KP and making Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) a fifth province of the country.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said Sunday’s rally was a referendum against 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 KP 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 penned down punishment against a dictator.”

The PPP chairman reiterated that the people were bearing 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 your representatives….”

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 responsible for current crises...

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 KP 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 KP and Balochistan and stop the practice of terming them 'terrorists'. p