The Pakistan Democratic Movement on Sunday renewed its request for Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down on January 31, saying he must “face a long march” by the Opposition to Islamabad.
An alliance of 11 Opposition parties has gathered at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana to mark the 13th anniversary of the death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that if by that date the prime minister did not resign, party workers would march to the capital and “drag him out of his seat”.
‘You are wrong if you think we will step down’ – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the government and all its opponents who think the Opposition will withdraw, only need to look at Bhutto’s grave in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.
He recounts the struggles of his grandfather and uncle, all of whom “sacrificed their lives” but “did not waver from their democratic convictions.”
“Look at the life of Benazir Bhutto, which is spent serving people,” he said.
“Benazir is still alive today in the hearts of everyone, and those who come into conflict with him, their names will be forgotten.
“Ziaul Haq’s tomb lies unattended, and General Pervez Musharraf is living a despicable life abroad,” Bilawal said.
The young PPP leader, who lost his mother at a young age, said that “Benazir’s presence is sorely missed today, and if he were around, these puppets would not dare to compete” with the Opposition.
Bilawal said that “a cloud of oppression is spreading” and that the time for the accountability of the “criminal authorities” is near.
“If you are ready, if you are with me, no power in the world can stop us,” he added.
“If the opposition alliance (PDM) calls for a long march, you have to be ready. We are on the same page and on the same stage,” he said.
Speaking to the workers, Bilawal asked once again: “Are you ready for a long march? Are you ready to fill the prison?”
He further asked if they were ready to reach Islamabad and “drag the Prime Minister from his seat”.
The PPP chairman said the Opposition had come out to war “to overthrow the government and uphold democracy”. “We will repel the puppets with your strength.”
‘Running the country is not like managing a cricket team’ – Asif Ali Zardari
PPP President Asif Ali Zardari in his speech said running the country “is not the same as managing a cricket team”.
“It takes a different mindset to run a country and these people don’t have it,” he said.
“This government will collapse under its own weight,” said Zardari.
He challenged the government to call elections and see who stood behind.
Zardari said the National Accountability Bureau had started “blackmailing” people.
“I said at the assembly on the first day – running the country or running the NAB,” he said.
“There is not a single political prisoner in the PPP government,” said the party president.
He said that in the PPP tenor, commodity prices are low. “We manage the country carefully, like raising children,” he added.
Zardari said that when the rule ended and PML-N came to power “they were welcome”. He said he wanted to see “all political parties on the same page”.
She promises to “meet everyone soon” when she feels better. “This government will not last long. The government you choose will come,” he said.
The former president said he had “removed Musharraf from parliament”. “What does Imran Khan compare?”
“We can get rid of Imran Khan Niazi. We just need to change our approach,” he told the crowd.
“We have to fill the prison and we are ready to do it,” said Zardari.
Maryam said the PDM was united, ‘only one person’
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz began her speech in Sindhi which greatly shocked the audience.
She thanks the hosts for their warmth and hospitality since her arrival in the city.
Maryam said she was saddened that Benazir Bhutto, the Muslim world’s first female prime minister, “had to give up her life” during her struggles and beliefs. She says it is pain she also brings, along with the Bhutto family.
Maryam recalled how, on that dark day, Nawaz Sharif was among the first to be told and how he embraced the PPP leaders and shared their sadness that day.
He says he knows what it means to lose a mother. “Grief is still fresh since two and a half years ago”.
“I can still spend time with my mother but Bilawal lost her mother when she was very young.”
Maryam said she was pouring out her heart like never before today. He remembered fond memories of spending the day with Benazir.
“Benazir fought for his father’s struggles and visions and ended up joining him in the afterlife.”
“I also want to fight for a united Pakistan,” he said.
During PML-N, PPP joined hands
PML-N leadership recalls the forging of the Democracy Charter signed between the PPP and PML-N, a journey initiated by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto.
“This is not just a part of history, this is an event that changed the fate of Pakistan,” he said.
He vowed that he and Bilawal would not only continue the journey but also push him forward. “The political mistakes committed in the past were exploited by anti-democratic forces.”
Maryam said all political parties then joined forces and not only corrected mistakes but promised not to repeat them.
He said that the results of this move will then be borne out, when the government is ready to finish their term of office.
“In 2008, when there was talk of the PPP government being overthrown, Nawaz Sharif dropped that idea and said that coming and going government is a decision made by the people, not a political party.”
He said “some forces” for which a “divisive and governing” strategy made more sense, then “gathered the splintered fragments from the political party and formed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf”.
Maryam said then “the incompetent” is then “forced on us all”.
‘You are not chosen’
“What does the PDM need to say to that person? He himself said he knew nothing […] he said people shouldn’t take power without preparation.
“I said, no one can come to power without preparation,” said the PML-N leader.
He told Prime Minister Imran Khan, when people “kill themselves out of hunger and despair because of inflation say, ‘What can I do, I don’t have a magic button’.”
“You say that a person cannot take office without preparation, but you are not elected by the masses.
“Those who brought you to power must step down,” he said.
‘Political ideology cannot be isolated’
Maryam said that “the corruptors” were pardoned, while the political leaders “were thrown in jail, shot down and brought to justice”.
“But you can never send to the gallows or alienate political ideology […] that is why, nobody is taking your name, but in every corner of Pakistan, there are people taking the names Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. “
He also paid tribute to the late Judge Waqar Ahmed Seth for convicting General Pervez Musharraf, “who was the murderer of Benazir and the Constitution”.
“The door to Pakistan will inshaAllah always be closed for Musharraf […] We will always remember (Seth’s) courage to uphold the Constitution. We will keep his memory alive, “said Maryam.
The dream of causing drift between PDMs will never come true
Talking about the PDM, according to him, it is a movement that has brought together all provinces under the banner of the constitution.
He said “only one person seemed to stand alone, failed, lost. The culprit sought an NRO from PDM”.
“The dream of a rift between PDM parties will never come true,” said Maryam.
“You are not at war with the PDM but with 220 million citizens,” he said, adding: “Taabedaar Khan, you have lost this battle.”
‘Slap in front of democracy’ – Abdul Malik Baloch
National Party President Abdul Malik Baloch spoke of the parliament “being held hostage” and how farmers were “dying of hunger”.
He also spoke out against what he described as the “occupation” of the Balochistan islands, saying the people did not accept this.
“The current government in power is a slap in the face of democracy,” he added.
‘Sindh-Balochistan relations predate Pakistan’ – Sardar Akhtar Mengal
Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Chairman of the Balochistan National Party Mengal Group, said: “We also love the land of Sindh. The relationship between Sindh and Balochistan predates Pakistan.”
He said that even a “dictatorship” could not break this relationship.
‘Will support Bilawal like a brother’ – Haider Khan Hoti
Awami National Party senior vice president Haider Khan Hoti said he saluted “Bibi” for the sacrifice martyrdom(Benazir Bhutto).
“Zardari sahab, I remember your loyalty to Pakhtuns, “he added.
“The way you support us, I will support Bilawal like a big brother,” said Hoti.
He remembered how Benazir was not afraid to return to the country, despite the various threats to his life.
“Standing at the shrine of the martyrs today, I promise not to leave the line of service,” said the ANP leader.
The arrival of the PDM leader
The Opposition leaders’ visit to Larkana came as the PDM was preparing for the second phase of its anti-government movement.
PPP chairmen Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari received various political leaders when they started arriving in Larkana in the early hours of the morning. This includes the PML-N delegation led by Maryam Nawaz.
The PML-N delegation consisted of Captain (retired) Safdar, Pervez Rashid, Maryam Aurangzeb, Muhammad Zubair, Muftah Ismail, and Shah Muhammad Shah.
PPP leaders Faryal Talpur and Sherry Rehman also joined the PPP delegation in welcoming the PML-N leaders.
PDM leaders were then scheduled to visit Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s grave to pay their respects.
After today’s general meeting, a dinner in honor of PDM leaders will be held at Rumah Bhutto, Naudero.
13th anniversary of Benazir’s death
Benazir, the central figure behind the PPP before her husband Asif Ali Zardari and their son PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took control of the party, were killed in a gun and bomb attack in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007.
Garhi Khuda Bakhsh is a village in Larkana that houses the family graves of the Bhutto family – Zulfiqar, Murtaza, and Benazir Bhutto, all buried there.
Benazir was sworn in as Pakistan’s first female prime minister on December 2, 1988. She is also the first woman to lead a Muslim country and has served as the prime minister of Pakistan twice.
The Sindh government has declared a public holiday due to the death anniversary of the former prime minister.