The Pakistan Democratic Movement’s long march scheduled for March 26 has been postponed amid a difference of opinion on the issue of resignations from assemblies alongside the protest.
A meeting of senior leaders of the PDM was held on Tuesday, after which Maulana Fazlur Rehman briefed the media on the outcome of deliberations held between the opposition parties.
Fazlur Rehman said that the main bone of contention between the alliance, the matter of a long march alongside mass resignations from assemblies, was discussed today.
He said that PPP expressed their reservations over the two being linked and have sought time to respond.
“They will hold a meeting of the Central Executive Committee and will get back to us,” he said.
“Until then, the long march must be considered postponed,” he said.
The PDM chief then abruptly left the gathering, leaving PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz to address the conference, flanked by PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gillani.
Maryam said that she does not wish for speculations to rise so will not be speaking about the time sought by PPP.
She spoke, however, of PPP President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks whereby he had asked Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan and reportedly said to him that the party’s resignations will only be handed in when he comes back.
Maryam denied such an exchange having taken place, saying: “No, that is not what he said. He simply said that Mian sahab you must come back and so must everyone else so we can struggle together.”
She said to this, she responded “very respectfully” by saying that Nawaz’s return to Pakistan “would be tantamount to handing his life over to killers which neither do the PML-N leaders want or the party’s vote bank”.
“And neither do the people of Pakistan want this because the people invest in their leaders. People want leaders who are alive and well,” she said.
Maryam said that since she is much younger than the PPP president, she very respectfully added that “Mian sahab’s struggle and sacrifices are known to everyone and in this brutal and vengeful tenure of the incumbent government he spent the longest and harshest sentence in jail”.
She said that “even while knowing that it is revenge” he left his ailing wife behind in London and came back with his daughter to Pakistan to face a jail term “in a false case”.
“He bravely served time in jail, even suffered heart attacks but bore them courageously. The government began to panic when his life was in danger and they sent him abroad.
“But now that he is abroad and is not fully well, as a daughter, I believe no one has the right to call him back. I do not think that after God’s mercy, when his life has been spared, it should be handed back to these killers,” Maryam said.
She said that the “government will be dissolved, InshaAllah” and insisted a “united PDM” stands before the media.
Maryam said that although Nawaz is abroad, his party is the most active in the country. “The entire party is united under his leadership, standing firm and fighting. I am Nawaz Sharif’s representative. Whosoever wishes to speak to him must first speak with me,” she added.
Gillani, taking over the briefing, said that he and his party had thanked everyone for the support during the Senate elections, in which he had defeated government-backed candidate Abdul Hafeez Shaik for the general seat from Islamabad.
He said the March 26 long march had been “bracketed with the resignations” over which PPP has simply sought some time to consult the Central Executive Committee, as it had originally expressed reservations against the move.
Gillani said the PPP had said to PDM: “If you want us to hand in resignations, give us some time. We will go back to the CEC, take their approval and get back to you.”
He said that the CEC has previously expressed the view that the opposition’s move should come from the parliament.
“Under the new scenario, the PDM leadership has unanimously told the PPP to approach the CEC,” Gillani said.
He added that the decision will be announced “soon”.
Speaking of the opposition’s decision to challenge the Senate chairman elections due to seven votes cast in his favour being rejected by the presiding officer, Gillani said that “he himself said go to the courts”.
“We will go to the courts, we will get relief and we get the chairmanship and it will be a victory for all of PDM,” he said.