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Was Fazlur Rehman’s APC Speech Censored By PPP?

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Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman registered protest against what he termed as ‘censorship’ of his speech by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) during the all-parties conference (APC) on Sunday.

The PPP that hosted the multi-party moot had made special arrangements for telecasting the opening speeches of the opposition leaders through live streaming on social media websites. The speeches of former president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif were broadcasted live. The same was the case with Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif’s speeches whose speeches were aired live.

However, the live-streaming suddenly stopped when JUI-F chief Fazl started his address. This angered the senior opposition leader, who said after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, the PPP also chose to blackout his speech. He said his party wanted to register a formal protest with the PPP and the organisers of the APC.

At this, PPP Chairman Bilawal told Fazl that the live-streaming of his speech was stopped at the request of his party leader who requested an ‘in-camera’ session. But Fazl said no such request was made.

Similarly, PPP’s vice-president Sherry Rehman also approached him and told him that it was upon his party’s request that they had not aired his speech live as his party had requested to hold the proceedings of the APC in-camera. Fazl, however, without even looking at Rehman said they had made no such request.

However, after the APC, Maulana read the joint declaration of the moot in the press conference, which seemed as a conciliatory effort by PPP to placate Fazl.

Pakistan Democratic Movement:

Following the APC, the opposition leaders announced the formation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in a bid to oust the government. They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The decision was taken after an hours-long multi-party moot held in Islamabad on Sunday to chalk out a strategy against the ‘selected government’ led by PTI chief and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The opposition lawmakers also demanded the ‘immediate resignation’ of Imran Khan and transparent polls in the country.

Dawn reported that a 26-point resolution passed by the multiparty conference announced the formation of the PPDM — an alliance structure which will lead and guide nationwide protests against the anti-public and anti-nation government in a disciplined and integrated manner.

The resolution read by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the incumbent regime was brought into power by the establishment and also owed its ‘fake stability’ to the powers-that-be. The resolution expressed ‘extreme concern’ over the increasing interference of the establishment in internal affairs of the country and regarded it as a ‘danger to the nation’s stability and institutions’.

The current regime has turned parliament into a ‘rubber stamp’, said the resolution, announcing that the opposition parties won’t cooperate with the government on legislation anymore.

The forum also called for electoral reforms so that elections could be held in a free and fair way to strengthen the democratic setup.

The opposition also demanded a new accountability law in the country in compliance with the Supreme Court verdict and suggestions made by the human rights watchdogs and the Council of Islamic Ideology. It also demanded accountability for all so that everyone could be held accountable, including bureaucrats, lawmakers, judicial and army officials.

The resolution specifically mentioned the recent corruption allegations against Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa and said his assets and family business should be probed in the light of a news report that accused him of accumulating massive wealth. The forum said that Bajwa should be removed as the chairman of the CPEC Authority until the investigation is completed.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in a bid to oust the government also decided phase-wise protests against the ruling PTI. They also demanded the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

PDM announced that the opposition parties would launch a three-phased anti-government movement from next month, with countrywide public meetings, protest demonstrations and rallies in December, and a ‘decisive’ long march towards Islamabad in January 2021.

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