ISLAMABAD - The two major opposition parties — Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — have asked Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam not to give an exact date for launching anti-government protest. Earlier, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had announced that anti-government protest would be launched after Eidul Fitr.

The two main opposition parties first want to mobilise their supporters ahead of joining a joint anti-government protest, and therefore they have stressed upon Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of his own faction of JUI-F, that he should delay his protest call for sometime which was made earlier this week.

On May 22, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also head of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), through a video message had appealed to his party workers to start preparations for a “big protest demonstration” against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government which would be held in Islamabad soon. He had also invited all other parties to join it saying this would be held against massive rigging in last general elections and the rising inflation.

On May 19, a meeting of the major opposition parties at an Iftar dinner authorised JUI-F chief to convene a multi-party conference after Eid to devise a joint strategy for launching a protest movement “for restoration of “real democracy” and “supremacy of the parliament” in the country and against the “bad economic” policies of the government. The leaders of 11 political parties made his nomination.

PML-N, PPP want to mobilise their supporters first

Background interviews with some key leaders from the opposition indicate that both PML-N and PPP in the first phase want to hold their separate political rallies in order to mobilise their workers and then want to participate in a joint protest. They have requested Maulana that the MPC should first decide the objective of anti-government movement, the mode of protest and its overall strategy to achieve the required targets and then announce an exact date of the protest.

The sources aware of the development informed that JUI-F plans to hold a “million march” from Lahore to Islamabad followed by a sit-in in the capital. It wants that PML-N should join it because the party has a power base in the provincial capital.

JUI-F has already announced “million marches” in Quetta and Peshawar after Eid and claims that it has held such 13 protests throughout the country.

Senior PPP leader and former senator Farhatullah Babar in an interview to The Nation said that there were many options opened before opposition to launch the anti-government movement. “This has yet to be decided whether the protest would have to be launched within or outside the parliament, whether there is a need to send the government home through a street movement or only an in-house would be enough,” he said. “These things will be opened for MPC,” he added.

Babar said that all opposition parties were now agreed that “the government must go, Prime Minister Imran Khan must go” because they have failed to deliver.” There is no second opinion that PM should go home but this has yet to be decided what would the modalities of his departures, what kind of set-up would be after that, whether election should be held or there should be some in-house change and a new PM should be brought from PTI, he said and added: “APC would discuss all these option.”

The parliamentary leader of PML-N in the Senate Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan said that MPC would have to determine its targets to launch an anti-government protest. “My personal view is that the moot should have to announce some exact date of protest,” he said adding that the bad performance of PTI itself was forcing his party workers to mobilise.

The opposition parties including PPP, PML-N, JUI-F, Awami National Party (ANP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and others had gathered at an Iftar dinner hosted by Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and decided to start an anti-government movement.

 

 

The ruling PTI claims that the leadership both PPP and PML-N want to save their skin from the corruption cases they are facing through launching such protests.