By Sankar Ray
The crucial hiatus between the ruling Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice) , and its satellites on the one hand and the Opposition whose main constituents in terms of parliamentary strength are Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Jamiar Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl-ur-Rehman) widens with the formation of the Pakistan Democratic movement at an All Parties Conference last Sunday (20 September) and adoption of a 26-point resolution –aiming at an end of the rule of PTI whose subservience to the army biggies are increasingly open.
The APC termed the PTI-led coalition as a ‘selected’ government and demanded resignation of the Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi. The PDM branded the National Assembly as ‘a rubber stamp’ and the government as a bonded entity of the ‘miltablishment’. Vowing not to cooperate with the government, the resolution said, “The selected government has ruined the common man’s life with record-high inflation, unemployment, and taxes” It further demanded that a ‘new law of accountability’ be passed, in sync 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.
The APC was attended by JUI-F chairman Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PML-N chairman Shehbaz Sharif and the former Pak PM Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz among other leaders. The resolution was read before the media by the JUI-F chief who snapped fingers at ‘miltablishment’ indirectly. The document, a chargesheet against the ruling coalition, stated it has been granted “fake stability by the same establishment” which interfered with the elections to bring the incumbent rulers to power. The regime is a “danger to the nation’s stability and institutions” through unabated interference in internal affairs of the country, the resolution bluntly wrote.
. The JUI-F supremo needled the miltablishment saying, “incumbent selected government has been granted artificial stability by the establishment that has imposed it on the people through rigged elections”. He accused the ‘selected government, for having ‘paralysed the parliament’ and suppressing ‘the voice of the opposition.’ The APC referred to the “the 1973 Constitution, the 18th Amendment and the current National Finance Commission (NFC) award that reflects ‘the nation’s united viewpoint’ The Opposition expressed its commitment to fight for guarding ‘these from any attack and will protect our provincial autonomy. No compromise will be made on this’ the veteran leader said.
The 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”, is set to organise a “decisive long march” in January next year. The opposition plans to enlist lawyers, traders, farmers, students, media as well as members of the civil society in its movement. For unseating the PTI-led government, opposition parties are readying to deploy “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,” states the resolution . It strongly condemned “unprecedented” gags on the media and censorship and asked government to release the editor-in-chief Jang and Geo Media Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman along with other media persons. The Maulana accused Islamabad of slapping “false cases based on political revenge” against political leaders, leaders, and activists.
The PDM resolution, struck after daylong deliberations, drew up 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 intrepid mood against the ‘fauzi hukmat’ under proxy is unmistakable as the APC demanded that the retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa step down from the post of chairman of China- Pakistan Economic Authority following the damning accusation of having amassed disproportionate assets.
Nawaz Sharif, addressing the participants criticised for having gone from a “state within a state” to a “state above the state”, and indicted the military for rigging elections to elect Imran Khan. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a tweet said, ‘Pakistan democratic movement is an important step towards a democratic Pakistan. Like the MRD (Movement for the Restoration of Democracy) & ARD (Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy) movements resisting dictatorships, #PDM has united all democratic forces. It has a clear, concrete plan of action to restore freedom & dignity of our people, parliament, and democracy”. ”
Former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar, reposing optimism in the opposition initiative, described the resolution in a commentary in The Friday Times as one where “the language, metaphor and diction used in the joint declaration were a significant departure from declarations adopted in similar opposition huddles in the past. In the past such declarations made only passing references to ‘establishment’ role in elections. The declaration adopted on Sunday last went far beyond the ritual expressions of reservations and directly criticized army’s role not only in elections but much else besides”. TFT editor, despite being cautious and sceptic, too noted. ‘The newly minted Pakistan Democratic Movement to get a vital energy boost with the handshake between Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Fazal ur Rahman.
The APC got a fillip from a meeting of the Pakistan Bar Council in Islamabad on 17 September. The PBC expressed grave concern over “army’s growing interference in politics, and demanded that demanded that the “army stopped political interference”.
One discovers a distant simile between PDM and the JP movement in the 1970s in India. But the path seems more thorny than rosy for the dreamers of democracy. Slanders against the APC are strewn like ‘pro-India’ and R&AW-inspired despite the fact that the PDM slammed Imran Khan (hinting at ‘miltablishment’) for fault lines due to equivocal stance on Kashmir after demolition of autonomy in Indian part of Kashmir on August 5, 2019.