Maryam Nawaz Sharif, in blue dress, waves to her supporters during an anti-government rally in Multan on Monday. AP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Despite several arrests, massive blockades and other hurdles created by the government, the multiparty opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was successful in holding its fifth power show in Multan on Monday, calling on Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign over alleged bad governance and incompetence.
The rally in the city of Multan was held a day after police, on orders from the government, carried out the arrests and banned the gathering, defending the move as necessary to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan.
Police earlier in the day acknowledged arresting over 370 people, while opposition groups put the number at more than 1,800. Authorities in Multan also switched off the area’s mobile phone network.
Because of the barricades, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz reached the venue in separate processions.
Ahead of the rally, government spokeswoman Firdous Ashiq Awan accused the opposition of “doing politics at the cost of people’s lives.”
Earlier in the day, Maryam told reporters she was not afraid of arrest and that the rally would take place at all costs. “There is no doubt that this government will no more be in power in the coming days, God willing, and I have no doubt about it,” she said.
Also in attendance and marking her political debut was Asifa Bhutto Zardari, the daughter of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated at an election rally in 2007.
Asifa Bhutto Zardari (left) attends an anti-government rally in Multan. AP
Asifa received an emotional welcome and applause as she represented her brother Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party who was unable to attend after testing positive for the coronavirus. Asifa said that the countdown for Imran Khan’s ouster has started.
Fazl vowed to hold a massive in Lahore on Dec.13, after which he and his supporters would march toward the capital, Islamabad, to “kick out” Imran Khan’s government.
In her address read from the prepared text, Asifa said the ‘selected’ [Prime Minister Imran Khan] has to go home as people of Multan have given their decision. She said despite the oppression by the government a huge number of people came to the public meeting. She said if the male leaders of the PDM were arrested, their females would lead the movement against the government. She said she would stand with Bilawal in this movement.
Addressing the rally, Maryam Nawaz described Imran Khan as the biggest virus that has hit Pakistan in every field. “First we have get rid of “COVID-18” virus, the COVID-19 would be taken care of automatically.
“This COVID-19 is very intelligent. It doesn’t spread in Jamaat-e-Islami’s gatherings, it doesn’t spread in government officials’ public meetings. It doesn’t enter gatherings of 300 people. It only spreads in opposition rallies.”
Maryam said that she will continue to fight for the public’s rights “even if I have to go to jail.”
Imran said the opposition parties have been blackmailing the government since day one to grant them amnesty. He said that the NRO given to the opposition by Pervez Musharraf had had disastrous effects on Pakistan, leading to an increase in debt liabilities.
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