Pak Opposition parties hold massive anti-govt rally despite security threats
Pakistan’s major Opposition parties on Sunday held their third massive joint rally despite security threats in the troubled southwestern Balochistan province’s capital Quetta, as part of their nationwide campaign to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a coalition of 11 Opposition parties formed on September 20, earlier held two massive back-to-back gatherings in Gujranwala and Karachi this month.
As the public meeting began at the Ayub Stadium in Quetta, the city witnessed a blast that killed three people and injured seven others in Hazarganji area, 35 to 40 minutes away from the rally site.
According to police, an improvised explosive device (IED) was planted in a motorcycle.
Undeterred by the blast, the PDM leaders went ahead with the rally, which was attended by PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other top leaders of the coalition.
Addressing the rally via video link from London, PML-N supremo and three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif again blamed Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for Pakistan’s current situation.
“Gen Bajwa, you will have to answer for record rigging in the 2018 elections, for horse-trading in the Parliament, for making Imran Niazi prime minister against people’s wishes and [by] tearing apart the Constitution and laws, for pushing people towards poverty and hunger,” 70-year-old Sharif said.
He also accused the ISI chief of “interfering in politics for several years with impunity” in violation of his oath. Sharif said that he names individuals “because I don’t want my army to be defamed”.
Pakistan’s powerful army has denied meddling in politics. Prime Minister Khan also denies the army helped him win the election in 2018.
“Looking at this enthusiasm, I am sure that no one will be able to violate the voter’s mandate now. I saw this enthusiasm in Gujranwala and Karachi, and now I’m seeing it in Quetta,” Sharif said, addressing the huge crowd at the stadium.
“I am aware of Baloch people’s problems, Nawaz Sharif knows […] the missing persons issue is still there. I feel pain when I see the victims,” he said, in an apparent reference to the forced disappearance of hundreds of Baloch people.
He said that the PDM has risen against “unconstitutional powers that have made Pakistan hollow from inside and out”.
This is not the first time Sharif has made such allegations against top army brass; he made similar ones in the Gujranwala rally after which a furious Prime Minister Khan had declared that he would get “tougher” with the Opposition.
Sharif has been in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treating the heart disease and an immune system disorder.
His daughter and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz in her speech said that the time has come to change the fate of Pakistan—and Balochistan.
“No longer will husbands and brothers go missing, people of Balochistan,” she said, addressing the attendees.