PESHAWAR: Pakistan's provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has registered an FIR against the newly-formed Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of 11 Opposition parties, for holding an anti-government rally here on November 22 despite a ban imposed against it by the administration.
The FIR was registered on Sunday against the five district leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) by the provincial authorities after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed the rally behind the spike in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is the ruling party in the province.
The fourth show of strength by the PDM was held despite the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government's warning that it may lodge cases against the PDM leaders if a spike in COVID-19 cases was witnessed in the province after the rally.
The alliance held four massive back-to-back gatherings against the government of Prime Minister Khan in Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar while the fifth rally was scheduled for November 30 in Multan despite prohibitive orders concerning COVID-19.
The PDM central leaders, including its chairman Maulana Fazlullah Rahman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Aftab Khan Sherpao, Asfandyar Wali and others, had also addressed the Peshawar rally. Bilawal was tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The FIR has been registered at the Pahari Pura Police station under various sections of the law like ban on brandishing of arms and use of loudspeakers.
Prime Minister Khan said that the PDM was a great hurdle in Pakistan's fight against coronavirus as it was refusing to halt gatherings despite administrative orders.
The political environment was heating up and so was the pandemic, as the cases of the coronavirus reached 398,024 after addition of 2,839 new patients in the last 24 hours, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.
It showed that 40 more patients died, taking the COVID-19 toll in the country to 8,025. More deaths were feared as some 2,046 patients were in critical condition.
Khan in a tweet on Sunday termed the Opposition as the 'main' problem in the fight against the virus as they were not bothered about people's health. "So, when we did a smart lockdown to save our poor from becoming destitute & save the economy from total collapse, these 'leaders' opposed & demanded complete lockdown. Now, with the new spike, when we again need smart lockdown, they want jalsas (gatherings) not caring for the lives & safety of people," he said.
The Opposition parties have refused to pay heed to what he said and announced its sixth rally to be held in Lahore on December 13.
On September 20, the leaders of 11 major Opposition parties announced the formation of the PDM and launch of a three-phased anti-government movement under an "action plan" starting with countrywide public meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies before a "decisive long march" towards Islamabad in January 2021.