Maryam Nawaz, Oppn leaders booked in PDM rally case

Opposition leaders (R to L) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Owais Noorani, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maryam Nawaz of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) joint hands as they arrive to attend an anti-government rally in Lahore on December 13, 2020. (Photo by Arif ALI / AFP)



Pakistan Democratic Movement’s top leaders, including PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, were booked on Tuesday for causing irreparable damage to a national asset after its Minar-e-Pakistan rally here, as the 11-party opposition alliance set January 31 deadline for Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down or face long march on Islamabad.

The opposition alliance held its final anti-government rally in Lahore on Sunday despite a ban on the gathering of more than 300 people owing to an increase in COVID-19 cases across the country. The PDM has been holding massive rallies since its inception in September to seek Khan’s ouster and press the powerful military to stop interfering
in politics.

Lahore police booked Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, former railways minister Saad Rafique and 125 others under different sections of the Pakistan Penal Code for breaking the locks of Minar-e-Pakistan gates, damaging the official property and violating the COVID-19 guidelines.

The FIR states that the PDM caused irreparable damage to the sanctity of a national heritage – Minar-e-Pakistan. It includes 15 counts of violations, including a violation of coronavirus standard operating procedures and the Sound System Act.

Police also registered an FIR against Mian Imran and Mian Shahid for facilitating the PDM Lahore rally on Sunday by selling 7,000 chairs.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Auranzeb said this FIR is a proof of the success of the PDM rally in Lahore. “The FIR is a reflection of a fascist mindset of puppet prime minister Imran Khan,”
she said.

The opposition parties on Monday evening signed a ‘Lahore Declaration’ during a meeting at PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s Jati Umra residence, which was attended by PDM convener Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan president Shah Owais Noorani, BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal, Awami National Party’s Mian Iftikhar and other leaders of the coalition.

“We ask the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government to resign by January 31. In case the government does not step down the date of the long march will be announced on February 1. We ask the people of Pakistan to start preparations for the long march from today,” Rehman told reporters after the meeting.

“Prime Minister Khan has time till January 31 to resign from the office. He is under pressure that is why he is talking about NRO (deal). The opposition can hold talks (with the powers that be) only after dissolution of assemblies,” he said, adding that the opposition lawmakers would submit their resignations to their leadership by December 31.

Terming the Lahore rally as “historic,” Rehman said it revived the memory of 1940 gathering in connection of Pakistan resolution here.

He said the PDM meeting condemned the effort to control the electronic media by the ISPR (media wing of the Pakistan military) for a negative propaganda against the rally and putting pressure on TV anchors.