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PDM pays no heed to govt’s request to stall long march

Fazlur Rehman says opposition will not stand country's autonomy being traded off by government

Undeterred by the government’s insistence otherwise, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) said on Tuesday that their “anti-inflation” long march will go ahead as planned on March 23.

PDM Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman declared that the opposition alliance was committed to the march as planned while speaking to the press in Islamabad after a meeting of the parties that form PDM.

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Respond to a query about PDM’s march amidst tightened security measures due to the military parade and an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) session the same day, Rehman said that the alliance would stage its demonstration as planned on Pakistan Day. He further questioned why the government would make the request not to hold it as planned when it knew about PDM’s march early on.

Speaking specifically about the military parade, however, the PDM leader added that they would get to Islamabad after the parade was slated to end after Zuhr prayers.

Last week, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had insisted PDM to change the date of their long march, maintaining that the country would be celebrating Pakistan Day and OIC guests would also be in the country. The minister had also hinted at the possibility of the capital city being sealed off considering the events planned.

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Rehman also took the government to task on several pressing matters during the media event on Tuesday. This included comments on the recently passed Finance (Supplementary) Bill, dubbed as the “mini-budget”. He said that the PDM had called for it to be scrapped.

He also commented on the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) bill that was passed simultaneous to the mini budget, adding that under it the country’s institutions were bowing down to foreign financial bodies. Rehman said that the opposition cherished the country’s autonomy and would not stand by it being traded by the government.

Speaking about inflation, Rehman said that soaring prices were crushing the citizens and the government was paying no heed to the SOS calls of those aggrieved. He added that a ruler who was unable to tend to the common people or the economy “[had] no right to remain in power”.

The opposition leader also talked about the Transparency International (TI) report that was released earlier on Tuesday, stating that that government had put a charge of corruption on the opposition, but the report had “laid bare their artificial honesty”. He was regretful that the country’s TI corruption index had soared from 114 to 170.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) were another point of contention that the PDM front-liner raised. He said that the government was planning to rig elections through EVMs despite having historically emerged as the most incompetent regime in Pakistan.

He furthered that Prime Minister Imran Khan was a proven criminal in the foreign funding case and had concealed 26 accounts, while calling on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to act and get the premier disqualified in this regard.

Rehman also addressed the Murree tragedy in which at least 22 people died due to mismanagement in inclement, snowy weather. He said that the government had dismissed some officers as part of their accountability measures but the PM and chief minister Punjab should have stepped down.





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