Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman announced on Monday that the opposition alliance would hold an “anti-inflation march” in Islamabad on March 23, 2022, Pakistan Day, to protest against the government’s failures.Speaking to the media in Islamabad after a meeting of the heads of the PDM’s component parties, Rehman said that the participants deliberated on the country’s current situation.He stated that the ruling PTI was brought into power as a result of rigging in the 2018 general elections, because of which it was facing failure on several fronts.He said that the march will be a “huge demonstration” and the “whole nation will participate”. “People will come to Islamabad from all corners of the country to participate in a demonstration against inflation, unemployment and poverty.
PDM meetings will be held at a provincial level to prepare a strategy for the march. Giving a breakdown, the PDM president said that he will chair a meeting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan’s (JUP) Awais Noorani will chair separate ones in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh, respectively.Rehman said that a seminar would also be held for which he would meet with the lawyers’ community as well as the representatives of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Pakistan Bar Council.The PDM has struggled with clarity ever since the PPP walked out of it in a huff. The original dilemma that the alliance faced in the early phases continues to haunt it. Resigning from the assemblies is apparently the most potent weapon it wields but that can only work — and that too is an assumption — if the combined opposition were to tender the resignations together.Three months is a long time in politics and no one knows this better than the politicians who drive the alliance. It may be safe to assume that by opting for such non-options, they are acknowledging that they are running on empty.
The opposition parties on their own, however, believe they can be more effective than the alliance. The PPP and PML-N are both pursuing various options to play the numbers game in parliament and their energies are focused on timelines that are shorter than the one set by the PDM. This leaves JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in a difficult spot. With insignificant numbers in parliament, the only weight he carries is on the streets. The street option, however, is a risky one because it is very hard to translate it into a clear pathway to the government’s ouster.