Islamabad: The eleven-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Friday sounded the war drums in Gujranwala during a massive rally and vowed to dislodge Imran Khan's PTI government, which it called a 'selected government', within weeks, Dawn News reported on Saturday.
The PDM leaders declared that the first public meeting of the opposition's protest campaign as a public referendum against the "selected and incapable" Imran Khan government.
The rally was addressed by the top leader of the PDM, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Mahmood Achakzai and many others.
Experts believe that the rally has drawn the attention of not just Pakistani stakeholders but also foreign observers since it is likely to set the tone for the entire opposition campaign.
The rally was expected to be a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz(PML-N) show since Gujranwala is a party stronghold and as expected it was Mian Nawaz Sharif who provided the fireworks at the rally with his speech relayed directly from London.
Mr Sharif once again reiterated his resolve to change the system, and target those who operated from behind the curtains, a reference to the all powerful Pakistan army, which many consider a state above the state of Pakistan.
Speaking at the rally Mr Sharif alleged that it was the establishment that had unconstitutionally ended his government out of office. Later, the general elections were rigged and the 'incompetent' Khan was imposed on the nation, he said. They would have to answer for all this, he remarked. He was less symbolic, more frank and visibly angry in his expression. He also talked about inflation and other issues the average Pakistani is faced with, but focus of his speech was the release of civilian rulers from the alleged bondage of the army.
Speaking to a jam-packed Jinnah Stadium, his daughter and the current leader of the PML-N, Mariam Nawaz took on Prime Minister Imran Khan over his policies and called upon Information Minister Shibli Fraz to resign as he had challenged the opposition to fill the stadium.
The Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Imran Khan had only one solution to all the problems of this nation and that was his 'tiger' force. "This man has broken all records of corruption. The PTI's own founding member revealed that Israel and India had funded the Imran Khan's party but no one was willing to look into this allegation," he said.
Taking a dig at Imran Khan Mr Bhutto-Zardari said this incompetent Niazi could not unite the Muslim world on Kashmir, as he had attempted to sell it to Modi. "Puppet and selected Niazi will remain silent but we will not be quiet on the issue of Kashmir," he said.
Addressing the gathering Jamiat Uleman-i-Islam (JUI-F) chairman Maulana Fazlur Rehman, said the tiding sea of people in Gujranwala would oust the 'fake' government. "In coming days the fake rulers will meet their fate," he said, declaring that "By the will of Allah the PTI government will not see this December," the Maulana said.
Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi targeted Imran Khan's government for its alleged failure to control the rising prices of essential goods which was making life hell for the common people.
Balochistan Awami Party's Abdul Malik and ANP's Mian Iftikhar, Mahmood Achakzai and Javed Hashmi also spoke on the occasion.
But despite the show of strength differences remain which could very well derail the aims and ambitions of the PDM.
PPP chairman Lala Musa, hinted at the difficulties the alliance could face in keeping in view the difference of opinion between parties within on various issues.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari also hinted that his party was not in favour of resigning from the assemblies. "We can go for an in-house change," he said when asked whom did the PDM want to negotiate with over the question of dislodging the Imran government.
Earlier, PMLN's Khawaja Asif had categorically declared the PML-N lawmakers would resign before the Senate polls in March 2021.
The government ministers on the other hand questioned the success of the rally saying that despite the combined efforts of not less than 11 opposition parties very few people actually came for the Gujranwala rally and termed it a complete flop show.
Even as the debate about the numbers continued, there was no mistaking that the stadium echoed with the loud slogans of 'Go' every time a speaker took the rostrum.