Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari yesterday claimed January next year to be the last month in power for Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Centre-ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Bilawal said this during the fourth power show held by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) here in defiance of a lack of permission to hold a public meeting by the local administration, citing an exponential rise in coronavirus cases, and a similar restraining court order.
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.
Nonetheless, a police command-and-control room was set up for the rally and some 4,000 security personnel deployed.
Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) vice-president Maryam Nawaz left the venue soon after hearing the news of her grandmother’s demise in London.
In his opening salvo, Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the attendance in large number at the rally was “a referendum against the PTI government” and showed the people had “refused the (legitimacy of) government which came into power through rigged election”.
In a broadside at the powerful security establishment, Rehman said: “We respect our armed forces as a defence institution, but if it tries to become a political institution then we have every right to criticise it… we give you a deadline to withdraw your support of the PTI-led government and focus on your professional responsibilities,” he thundered.
“Like people in the US rejected President Trump in elections, InshaAllah people [of this country] will also reject Pakistani Trump [Imran Khan].”
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also said the rally was a referendum against the Prime Minister and his government from the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The PTI rules the province with a sweeping two-third majority.
He vowed that PPP and PDM would never abandon the people of the province unlike the current rulers of the “hybrid regime”.
He reiterated that the people were baring the burden of an “incompetent and selected” government.
Bilawal said the PTI only warns the people of the Covid-19 pandemic whenever there is a rally of PDM. “They do not want to compensate the frontline workers,” he charged.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was a noticeable absence from yesterday’s rally, having been unable to speak from a video link from London, “owing to a severe kidney pain” according to a tweet from his daughter Maryam.
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