ISLAMABAD, Sep 20: Former president Asif Ali Zardari delivered the opening speech at the PPP-hosted multiparty conference through video link criticised the government over what he called were “tactics” to suppress the opposition and media. He said that the removal of government is not the solution of all problems. The opposition must continue its struggle for strengthing the democracy.
He welcomed Maryam, PML-N vice-president and daughter of Nawaz Sharif, and said he was happy to see her at the conference. “We have seen the difficulties she has faced and we can understand because my own sister has gone to jail and my wife went to jail . We pay tribute to her and we are with you, and will keep fighting for your cause and you will keep fighting for ours, I am sure.”
In his speech, Bilawal emphasised the need for the multiparty conference to come up with a proper plan of action for “gaining freedom for the people”.
“If elected representatives cannot even speak in parliament and get their votes re-counted, what hope will the nation have?” he asked. He demanded that the opposition be given a level-playing field — not only in politics and media but in parliament as well. He urged the opposition to unite and launch a movement similar to the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in the past.”We are standing with the decision this forum takes and are willing to fight till our last breath,” he said.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif says that the dictatorships in the country’s history had not only put a black mark on democracy but also damaged the judiciary. Talking about the 2018 elections, he said: “Remember when a selected government came into power and the selected prime minister promised the nation that the discrepancy in the elections, the disappearance of the RTS system, and the pre-engineering of election results would be investigated.”
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while addressing the participants of the conference, called upon the opposition parties to “take concrete decisions” and resign from the assemblies they have been elected to. He said that Sindh Assembly, where PPP is in a majority, should also be dissolved. Sindh is the only province where an opposition party is in power. He also criticised the opposition parties for “stepping back” and said: “You people are the reason they (government) has survived for two years.”
Rehman said that it was time to take “practical steps”, adding that in order to run a successful movement against the government, trust must be established. “The option of compromise is not available,” he declared and called for a boycott of all government ceremonies, non-participation in legislative process, detachment from all international agreements made by the “unconstitutional government”.
Referring to laws passed to curb money laundering, Rehman said: “Don’t you all know that whether it’s black money or illegal money transfer; the actual budget of secret agencies comes from that. So when we say that the money goes to terrorists, the money that goes to support state-sponsored terrorism should also be blocked.”
PML-N, National Party (NP), Awami National Party (ANP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) and Jamiatul Hadees participated in the conference.
The PML-N delegation, under party president and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, arrived at the conference with Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Ayaz Sadiq, Pervaiz Rasheed, Maryam Nawaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah, Ameer Maqam and Marriyum Aurangzeb.