The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 parties, assured their supporters that they would sent sitting government home soon.
PDM rally was also addressed by the leader of Pakistan Muslim League and former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, who has recently been declared absconder. In his fiery and controversial speech, he had criticized establishment.
The rally was addressed by the PDM leaders Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Mahmood Achakzai and many others.
Maryam Nawaz Sharif in her speech said government had imposed curbs on media and once it would be free his corruption stories would come out.
Bilawal Bhutto, in his speech said millions of people are now out of job. Political leaders are facing “false cases.”
Moulana Fazalur Rehman said PDM would dislodge sitting government in weeks. He said JUI-F has called for sectarian harmony in the country.
The PDM leaders their first rally as the public referendum against the Imran Khan government.
Earlier, Maryam Nawaz left for rally from her residence in Lahore. She was surrounded by charged party workers. She spoke to paty workers outside her residence and said people are marching for their rights.
Moulana Fazalur Rehman, head of JUI-F, also embarked on his joureny to Gujranwala from Lahore. Bilawal Bhutto, chairmain Peoples Party, will travel from Lala Mousa to Gujrawnala.
War of Tweets
The trending hashtags on Twitter today exemplify the polarized reaction to the rally. Alongside #PDMJalsa and #PDMGujranwalaJalsa, other Urdu hashtags like “corrupt_tola_in_Gujranwala” (“corrupt gang in Gujranwala”) and “corruption_bachao_opposition_jalsa” (“opposition rally to save corruption”) are being used to convey a negative response to the PDM.
The official Twitter account of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been participating in these hashtags, and sharing clips and images conveying the corrupt credentials of the opposition.
Earlier in the day, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted a series of photos depicting news headlines about hurdles placed in the way of rally participants. These include the placement of containers and barbed wires on the routes to the venue of the Gujranwala rally. Alongside the images, she posed the question: “This afraid? Of an unarmed girl?”
This refers to the famous verse from a Habib Jalib poem, “Darte hain bandook waale ek nihatti larki se” (“those with weapons are afraid of an unarmed girl”).
PTI’s Mirza Shahzad Akbar, advisor to the prime minister on accountability and interior, responded with sugar-coated jibe. He said that the rally venue and the routes are all favourable to the opposition, so they should enjoy the process. He also noted Maryam Nawaz’s reference to herself as “girl” in a taunt towards her age, and suggested that the rally would be under-attended. In a later tweet, he ridiculed the uncle-niece duo of Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz for adopting self-aggrandizing political personas.
Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz announced her departure for the rally in the following tweet:
“I embark on this mission as your foot soldier,” she said to her father, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. “I have dedicated myself to your struggle, your mission for Pakistan and its people. May Allah be with us and may we return triumphant and victorious Insha’Allah. Pakistan Zindabad.”
“This is the beginning of the end of this fake government,” Maryam said in a video clip.
Footage of her departure amid fanfare was shared by PML-N’s Hina Pervez Butt.
Earlier, PTI’s Chaudry Fawad Hussain, federal minister for science and technology, tweeted about the opposition’s failure to draw in crowds at the Gujranwala rally venue. He compared it to the support received by Imran Khan during his rally at Minar-e-Pakistan in 2018.
Ali Haider Zaidi, federal minister for maritime affairs, posted about the positive coverage of the opposition rally by Indian media. He referred to the PDM alliance as the “NRO seeking coalition of crooks & looters.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan People Party (PPP)’s Shazia Atta Marri dubbed the protest a “court of the people” that will hold the inefficient government accountable.
Shahbaz Gill, special assistant to the prime minister on communications, noted that the government will provide rally participants with water, hands sanitizer, masks and other essentials to ensure compliance with COVID-19 SOPs. However, he maintained that PDM rally is simply the result of the population being exploited by dynastic politicians.
As the much-awaited rally draw nearer, the Pakistani population continues to engage in discussion and analysis. PTI’s Faisal Javed Khan welcomes this discourse, but warned in a tweet against the use of derogatory remarks.
He encouraged the use of rationale in arguments, and requested PTI followers to “not to use any derogatory language for anyone especially opposition parties’ workers, especially women.”
During this time, multiple personalities on social media have also expressed disappointment at the disinvitation of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)’s Mohsin Dawar from the Gujranwala rally.