The opposition parties in Pakistan have joined hands to oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

They gave a formal shape to their alliance on Monday, naming it the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister.

They announced the launch of a three-phased movement under an action plan starting from next month. The platform will arrange countrywide public meetings and protest demonstrations in December, to be followed by a decisive “long march” towards capital Islamabad in Jan 2021.

The announcement of PDM formation came at an hours-long multi-party conference (MPC) hosted by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and attended by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and other opposition groups.

Besides others, the MPC was addressed by deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif of PML-N and former president Asif Ali Zardari of PPP through video link.

The alliance leaders announced that they will use all political options, including no-confidence motions and en-mass resignations from parliament, for securing resignation from “the selected prime minister” and ending “the role of the establishment (read military) in politics”.

Chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, presented the details of their “action plan” to the media on the conclusion of the meeting, which resulted in their alliance to oust government.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and vice president Maryam Nawaz, and other key opposition figures were present on the occasion.

Charter of Demands

Before announcing the action plan, Fazl also read out a 26-point declaration containing several demands, including the “end of establishment’s interference in politics” and free and fair elections after electoral reforms with no role of military establishment and intelligence agencies.

The declaration present in the form a resolution also demanded the release of political prisoners, withdrawal of cases against journalists and across the board accountability under a new accountability law.

The opposition charter also demanded speeding up of the projects under CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and implementation of the NAP (National Action Plan) against terrorism.

Accountability of All

The resolution also called for the accountability of all – including the officials of judiciary and defense forces –under a uniform law, emphasizing that they must be investigated the same way as the politicians.

A particular demand made by the opposition alliance was about Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information retired Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa. The resolution said Bajwa must be sacked and a transparent investigation must be carried out into reports about his offshore businesses and properties.

The MPC expressed concern over the filing of cases against “upright’ and “impartial” judges and endorsed the Sept 17 resolution of the Pakistan Bar Council, terming the existing process of judges’ appointment a hurdle in the way of independent judiciary.

End to military interference and political reforms

The resolution said: “This meeting has declared that the present selected government has been provided strength by the establishment which had imposed it on the people through rigging in the elections.

“The meeting has expressed grave concerns over the increasing role of the establishment in politics and considered it a threat to country’s national security and institutions.”

Maulana Fazl said the MPC has rejected the idea of imposing a presidential system in the country. They will not make any compromise on the supremacy of parliament, he added.

It rejected the plan for holding local government elections on non-party basis and called for implementation of the Aghaz-i-Huqooq Balochistan Programme.

Poor economy and deteriorating security

The JUI-F chief said the “failed policies” of the government had ruined the country’s economy, jeopardizing country’s defense, nuclear capability, and sovereignty.

He said the MPC also expressed concern over price hike, increase in terror incidents and non-implementation of the NAP on terrorism.

The conference expressed concern over the growing tension in the country due to recent sectarian incidents and termed it “dangerous and a result of the government’s criminal negligence”.

The MPC called for presenting the “missing persons” before courts and an end to the abduction of people by the security agencies.

The conference urged to form a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to document the country’s history since its establishment in 1947 in the true perspective.

It decided to review the Charter of Democracy signed by the PPP and PML-N in 2006 and form a committee for this purpose.

Resignation From Parliament

The de facto top leaders of the two biggest opposition parties – Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari – maintained their virtual presence through video link almost throughout the MPC.

Their heir-apparent – Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari – also held separate consultations with their fathers over telephone during the conference.

Sources said the option of resigning from parliament to mount pressure on the government was included in the declaration on the demand of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

They said the Maulana was of the view that they should immediately resign from parliament, but the PPP and PML-N opposed the idea.

Some leaders, including Bilawal, were of the view that the self-exiled PML-N leader, Nawaz Sharif, should return to the country and the opposition parliamentarians should hand their resignations to him.

Nawaz Sharif, who is convicted in Pakistan and went abroad on medical grounds, suggested in lighter vein that they should hand over their resignations to Maulana Fazl.

And when no consensus could be developed on this radical suggestion, it was decided to include it as an option in the declaration.

Talking to journalists after the meeting, Maryam Nawaz said her party was with the narrative of her father Nawaz Sharif. Asked if her uncle Shehbaz Sharif also supported Nawaz Sharif’s hardline stance, she said Shahbaz was president party and he considered his brother’s advice as orders.

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