PDM Lahore rally: Maryam, Bilawal criticise govt for arrests, inflation

The Pakistan Democratic Movement is holding its final rally of the year in Lahore today (Sunday). It has threatened in the previous rallies to resign from assemblies en mass to pressure the government into quitting.

Today’s rally doesn’t have the government’s approval. The local administration
in Lahore has denied
the PDM permission
 to hold the rally.

said it can’t allow any group to hold a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan because of
the spike in coronavirus infections in the country.

In fact the government has
urged the opposition to postpone the rally by two to three months.

Nonetheless, PDM workers entered Iqbal Park, the ground surrounding Minar-e-Pakistan, Saturday night to set up for the rally. Chairs, a sound system and posters of PDM leaders were set up. Containers were also brought in to build the stage.

Bilawal Bhutto, Maryam Nawaz and Fazlur Rehman are at the rally. Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto have addressed the rally, and both decried rising inflation and poverty.

Maryam said that Imran Khan wants to hold talks with the opposition after successful PDM rallies. “He used to claim he won’t give anyone NRO, now he is asking for one.”

Bilawal Bhutto said that it is shameful that the incumbent and former opposition leaders have been put in jail, and demanded that Shehbaz Sharif and Khursheed Shah be freed.

“We are here to challenge this government and its facilitators,” he added.

Opposition’s stance

PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz also toured the site ahead
of the rally.

She has accused the government of placing roadblocks in
their way. She said the PDM will not give the government an NRO, echoing Prime
Minister Imran Khan’s oft repeated words.

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is also in
Lahore, says they will restore democracy in the country through their struggle.
He said the premier will flee the moment the long march begins.

Cold weather in the city isn’t deterring PDM supporters.
Cold, foggy weather has been reported in the city and the temperature has dropped.

PDM chief Fazlur Rehman said their December 13 rally is
being called impossible but they have already uncovered every one of the
government’s attempts to foil their plans. He has called today’s rally the
biggest in history.

We want the end of this incompetent government, he said.

Threat alert

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan may attack Minar-e-Pakistan when the PDM holds its gathering, the National Counter Terrorism Authority has warned.

It has recommended taking strict security measures at the gathering and “keeping an eye out for suspicious individuals”.

It says terrorists have changed their strategy after targeting a madrassa in Peshawar where eight people were killed and over 125 wounded in a blast.

Neighbourhoods locked down

The Punjab government imposed a smart lockdown in 13 areas neighbouring Minar-e-Pakistan ahead of the rally.

A notification issued by the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department on Saturday stated that the order would remain in force till December 25.

The areas that have been named in the notification are Rang Mehal, Androon Shera Wala Gate, Mochi Gate, Adroon Bhatti Gate, Chuhan Road, four streets of Ravi Road and four streets in Badami Bagh.

What is the Pakistan Democratic Movement?

The PDM, which comprises 11 opposition parties, has been staging anti-government rallies across Pakistan.

The first rally was held in Gujranwala on October 16, the second in Karachi on October 18, and the third in Quetta on October 25. The movement’s fifth rally was held in Peshawar on November 22 and its sixth in Multan on November 30. The last rally will be held in Lahore on December 13.

The opposition members said there should be accountability for anyone accused of corruption, not just the opposition. At the rallies, the opposition leaders also challenged the country’s powerful establishment, accusing them of bringing the PTI government to power through systematic rigging.

PDM lawmakers have also threatened to resign en masses to force the government to dissolve assemblies. PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair told SAMAA TV that Nawaz Sharif will make a “big announcement” today.

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