The opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) scheduled march to the Election Commission of Pakistan on January 19 will be a protest and not an “attack”, the alliance’s president Maulana Fazlur Rehman said on Monday.
Speaking after a meeting of the PDM steering committee in Islamabad, Rehman said PDM members were democratic people and followed the Constitution and law. “We want freedom of democracy in the country because that is the demand of the Constitution and the law,” he added.
He said the meeting discussed the strategy for Tuesday’s protest outside the ECP and it was decided that “the PDM leadership will enthusiastically stage a protest demonstration in front of the Election Commission regarding the foreign funding case.”
Rehman termed the foreign funding case “the biggest scandal in Pakistan’s political history” whose central character he said was Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He accused the premier of illegally collecting millions of rupees from around the world in the name of his party and “using them for political disruption and election rigging by bringing the money into the country through hundi and other means”.
Rehman said the foreign funding case against the ruling PTI had been pending for six years and Prime Minister Imran took “the mother of NROs” to create political instability in Pakistan and “used funds collected in the name of charity for personal business and spreading chaos, illegally and through secret accounts”.
The foreign funding case against the PTI was filed in November 2014 by Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the party. The case relates to allegations of undisclosed foreign funding of the PTI.
“We will demand the ECP to immediately give a decision on the crime which has been accepted,” he said, adding that further delays were giving rise to doubts and suspicions.
Referring to former premier Nawaz Sharif, Rehman said on one hand a decision was issued against an elected prime minister within six months, while today a case was pending against a “selected” prime minister for six years. “What kind of justice is this?” he asked.
The PDM chief appealed to Pakistanis to participate in the protest for the sake of “national security” and against “obtaining funds from anti-Pakistan lobbies”.
He said today’s meeting had given final shape to a schedule for protests and rallies across the country, and announced that the PDM leadership will participate in an “Israel Na Manzoor” (Israel not accepted) “million march”.
On February 5, he said, the day will be observed to express solidarity with Kashmiris, while simultaneously a “big rally” will be held in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh where Kashmir’s political parties have also been invited.
Accusing the government of having “sold” Kashmir, Rehman said this strong protests will be held on Feb 5 for doing away with the Kashmir cause.
He said rallies will also be in held in Hyderabad on Feb 9, in Sialkot on Feb 13, in Balochistan’s Pishin on Feb 16, in Sardogha on Feb 23, in Khuzdar on Feb 27. Following the scheduled public meetings, the PDM will take a decision about staging a long march to Islamabad, Rehman added.
Answering a question, the PDM chief clarified that the protest in front of the ECP should not be equated with the alliance’s planned long march. “Long march will be from the whole country; here we’re not calling people from the entire country but workers can arrive and participate at their own will,” he added.
The PDM had announced last week that it would stage a demonstration outside the ECP offices in Islamabad on Jan 19, when the commission is set to resume the hearing of the foreign funding case against the PTI on Tuesday.
The PML-N has announced that the party’s vice president, Maryam Nawaz, would lead a rally from Rawalpindi, which would then turn into a public meeting outside the ECP headquarters on Constitution Avenue.
On Thursday, the government had decided to allow the PDM to stage its protest outside the ECP office, but warned the 10-party opposition alliance not to take the law into its own hands.
Announcing the decision, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had expressed the hope that the opposition would respect the “goodwill gesture” shown by the government and hold its protest within the ambit of the law and the Constitution.