PDM decides to challenge ‘controversial’ government bills in Supreme Court

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif (L), JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mahmood Khan Achakzai (R). — File photo

LAHORE: In a bid to mount pressure on the government, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has decided to take up the government’s “controversial” bills in the country’s top court and ramp up the protests.

In a virtual meeting held today, with PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the chair, the alliance tasked JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza, PML-N Deputy Secretary Atta Tarar, and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to prepare legal grounds for challenging the bills in the Supreme Court, a statement said.

The “controversial” bills include The National Accountability (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021, electronic voting machine, and the bill which seeks to “curtail” the State Bank of Pakistan’s powers and “handing it over to the International Monetary Fund”.

The Opposition leaders have been tasked to consult with lawyers and draft a strategy to challenge the bills in the top court, the statement said.

“The [participants of the meeting decided to call a meeting of PDM’s steering committee on November 22, in which legal suggestions against the government’s bills will be presented,” the statement said.

The steering committee has also been asked to make recommendations for the “decisive” anti-government long march and present them in the PDM leadership’s meeting on November 23.

The Nov 23 meeting will give the final nod for the long march, the statement said.

The next protests:

Quetta — Nov 17

Peshawar — Nov 20

Apart from Fazl, PML-N’s top leadership, including Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Qaumi Watan Party Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Balochistan National Party Chairman Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, and others were in attendance via video link.

‘PDM will win this war’

On Saturday, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said the PDM will “win this war” against the government, as he addressed a protest against inflation in Karachi.

“We will win this war, and Pakistan will have a government that is truly representative of the people, which will understand the problems faced by the masses. The ones who [were imposed] are not aware of the public’s issues,” Fazl had said.

The PDM has ramped up its anti-government protests, with the first of the new wave of protests taking place in Karachi. The next will be held in Quetta on November 17 and in Peshawar on November 20.

“This journey, which has started from Karachi, will continue […] and we will march to Lahore, and from there, we will go to Islamabad,” Fazl had said.

Last week, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari met Fazl at the latter’s Islamabad residence as both sides moved to shun the differences. The PDM and the PPP had parted ways in April this year after show-cause notices were issued to the PPP by the anti-government alliance.

‘Opposition will have to wait for another five years’

Last week, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had played down the PDM protests, telling them to wait for a year or two and then, the Opposition will have to wait for another five years.

“You cannot achieve everything that you want through conspiracies […] I would first suggest the Opposition stands on its feet and stop hatching conspiracies,” he had said.

The information minister had said the government’s position was “stable” and in the next two to three months the mounting inflation would also come down — and the country will move toward the election in 2023.

Chaudhry had said the PDM “group” comes out on the streets every year, as protests against the government were its usual “winter activity”.

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