Pakistan opposition parties postpone March 26 protest to seek Prime Minister Imran Khan's resignation

The PDM meeting failed to chalk out a consensus strategy due to divergence of views on the issue of en masse resignation from the parliament ahead of the long-march.

Published: 17th March 2021 01:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th March 2021 01:18 AM   |  A+A-

Radical Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman (File Photo| AP)


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's opposition parties on Tuesday decided to postpone a planned protest later this month to seek the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and demand fresh elections in the country.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 opposition parties, had announced that a huge anti-government long-march would descend on Islamabad on March 26 to force the government to resign and pave way for fresh elections.

However, the PDM meeting failed to chalk out a consensus strategy due to divergence of views on the issue of en masse resignation from the parliament ahead of the long-march to put pressure on the government.

Addressing the media after the crucial meeting, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman along with other leaders said that the alliance discussed the issue of a long-march alongside mass resignations from assemblies.

He said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) expressed their reservations over resignation and sought time to respond.

"They will hold a meeting of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and will get back to us.

Until then, the long march must be considered postponed,” he said.

The Maulana left the presser abruptly after making the announcement to postpone the long-march.

Officials privy to the meeting told PTI that the PPP leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari opposed resignation and said his party will only do so if PML-N chief and former premier Nawaz Sharif returned from London, where he has been staying since 2019.

His speech left bad taste in the meeting and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz made an emotional plea about the threats to Sharif and asked Zardari if he could guarantee his (Sharif) safety on return.

Sources said that Zardari later apologised to Maryam and said all decisions of the PDM should be made with consensus.

Later, Maryam addressing the PDM leaders' press conference denied that Zardari linked resignation with return of Sharif.

“No, that is not what he said.

He simply said that Mian sahab you must come back and so must everyone else so we can struggle together,” she said.

However, she said that Sharif's “return to Pakistan would be tantamount to handing his life over to killers which neither the PML-N leaders want nor the party's vote bank".

PPP leader Yusuf Raza Gilani in his remarks said the March 26 rally was "bracketed with resignations" and so the PPP wanted some time for consultations because the CEC's first decision was not in favour of resignations.

He said that PPP would soon inform the PDM about its stance.

Despite efforts by the PDM leaders to cover up the rift over the issue of resignations, it was evident that the alliance was deeply divided.

Sources said that the PML-N and PPP were also divided over the issue of appointing the leader of opposition in the Senate as both parties wanted to put their man in the seat.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government after the reports of difference in the ranks of PDM declared that the opposition parties had no common agenda than just creating unrest in the country.

“They came together to save their wealth which they got through corruption and now they are falling apart,” PTI leader Farrukh Habib said.



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