ISLAMABAD: The focus of Pakistan’s Imran Khan-led government remained on praising and defending the country’s powerful military establishment on Monday, a day after former PM Nawaz Sharif vowed that the opposition’s struggle was not against the “selected PM and government” but against the system (military establishment) that had imposed it upon the nation through a manipulated electoral process.
“By criticising the army, he has made India happy. His speech was celebrated in India. At India’s behest, he is doing a disservice to the country’s national interest,” minister for planning and development Asad Umar said at a press conference. He was accompanied by the foreign minister, information minister and minister for science and technology.
Staying silent for over two years, Sharif took the military establishment head-on on Sunday, describing its “unconstitutional” role in politics as the root cause of the country’s problems. “This is not a state within a state but a state above the state,” Sharif said in a bold and scorching speech against the military establishment. He was addressing a multi-party conference (MPC), hosted by the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and attended by all opposition parties, through a video link from London.
At the conclusion of the MPC, the opposition parties gave a formal shape to their alliance, naming it the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The MPC announced it would launch a three-phased anti-government movement under an “action plan” starting from next month with countrywide public meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies in December and a “decisive long march” towards Islamabad in January 2021.
The opposition leaders announced that they would use all political and democratic options, including no-confidence motions and en mass resignations from parliament, to seek “the selected prime minister’s resignation and an end to the role of the establishment in politics”.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) presented the details of the “action plan” before the media in the presence of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and vice-president Maryam Nawaz, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other prominent opposition leaders.
Before announcing the “action plan” aimed at ousting the present government, the JUI-F chief also read out a 26-point declaration in the form of a resolution containing various demands, including “end of the military’s interference in politics, new free and fair elections after formulation of election reforms with no role of armed forces and intelligence agencies, release of political prisoners, withdrawal of cases against journalists, implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism, speeding up of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and across-the-board accountability under a new accountability law”.
Maulana Fazl said a special committee would soon be formed to give final shape to their programmes under the action plan and announce dates for public meetings and other activities.
Through the resolution, the opposition parties also demanded the sacking of the chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa (Retd), and a transparent investigation into the media report about his offshore businesses and properties. They said that investigation must be carried out in the way it was done with the politicians. The resolution called for accountability of all those belonging to the judiciary, defence forces, bureaucracy and parliament under a uniform law.