Maryam, Bilawal deliver hard-hitting speeches against Imran Khan
The aim of the Pakistan Democratic Movement is to restore democracy in Pakistan, Fazl opened his speech to say. "Imran Khan says Khwaja Asif called General Bajwa at eight and asked him to make him win the election but he has forgotten that he is himself a selected ruler," he said.
"I want to talk to the people of Karachi. How will you [Imran Khan] give people one million houses? You have demolished 50,000 in Karachi."
Rich people never bring about a revolution, he added. "A revolution is always brought by the poor."
"I am not afraid of bombs, I will be with my people," said Bilawal, opening his speech with reference to the anniversary of the October 18, 2007 attack on Benazir Bhutto's homecoming convoy.
"We have a debt of their blood," he said. One hundred and eighty people were killed on that day and over 500 others were injured.
He went on to dwell on the differences between the Sindh government and Federal government over the Pakistan Islands Development Authority. "If you don't take this ordinance back by Wednesday," he said, then a resolution will be passed in the Senate to throw it out. These islands could not be sold as they belonged to the fishermen of Karachi who earned their livelihood from them.
"If you don't allow us to speak, we'll come out on to the streets," he said. You can jail us, but how many people will you put in jail? He also addressed censorship, adding that even TikTok had been banned. "But how will you ban a hungry child crying? How will you ban the anger of a jobless young man?"
You threaten us with jail and NAB? We're standing at Karsaz. When bombs didn't deter us, you think jail will, a puppet government will?"
He told the story of PPP supporter Nasir Baloch who was hanged during Zia ul Haq's regime. "Comrades, I'm going to the hangman's noose, why is there silence?" he had asked. The whole jail then thundered with slogans of 'Jiye Bhutto'.
He told the story of PPP's Ayaz Sammo who was sentenced by a military court. "If Bhutto can go to the gallows, so can Ayaz," Bilawal recounted him as saying.
"When I came to Karachi today, I thought of Benazir Bhutto," said Maryam. "I met her once, for three hours, in Saudi Arabia. She ate with me. She spoke to me lovingly, like a mother."
She thanked Karachi for a warm welcome, and commiserated with the Sindh government over its tussles with the federal government. She also congratulated Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for his work on controlling COVID.
She was critical of Prime Minister Imran Khan's speech a day earlier. "One person screamed and screamed as he self-flagellated over his own ineptitude," she said. "There was just one jalsa so far, in Gujranwala. And you panicked. You've lost your sense and mental balance."
Children have no business in an adult's fight, she said, cryptically referring to her father and Imran Khan.
She was also critical of the way Imran Khan had spoken about Nawaz Sharif. When Imran Khan protested in Islamabad, Nawaz Sharif did not use inappropriate language for him, she added.
She said political enemies who stood against each other could do it with respect. Before Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, she and my father grew close, as a brother and sister, said Maryam. And today, Bilawal and I, their children, will maintain that relationship.
Maryam then criticised the censoring of her father's speech in Gujranwala, which was not aired by many television channels. "If what Nawaz Sharif said was so wrong, why did you censor the speech?" she said. "If you are unable to allow the people to hear his speech, then you do not have the right to comment on it."
She said that she, her father, the PML-N, the people of Pakistan and the opposition had just as much a right to say the Pakistan Army was theirs as Imran Khan did. "Who made you the spokesman for the army?" she asked. The army does not belong to one person.
We salute all the martyrs, the jawans who laid down their lives for our Pakistan and their families who gave the ultimate sacrifice, Maryam went on to add. We salute the majors, the colonels, the major generals, the brigadiers, but we cannot salute any boot that tramples a vote, she said.
By about 10pm, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of the BNP spoke. He referred to coverage of the first PDM rally in Gujranwala where workers and supporters were filmed eating in the stadium. "Some TV channels were mocking workers for eating qeemay wallay naan," he said. "I request Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to order Papa John's pizza for workers next time."
He went on to say: I am ready to salute you, only if you hold yourself accountable for the bloodshed in Balochistan. He also referred to the fight between the Sindh government and Islamabad over the Pakistan Islands Development Authority: "You are not a federation but a qabza group who's occupying beaches and islands in provinces," he said. "The people of Gwadar don't even have water to drink. Fishermen are not allowed to go fishing in their own sea."
Your whole PTI will need an NRO when the foreign funding case is decided, said ANP's Ameer Hoti in his speech. He was speaking at about 9:20pm.
A dua was offered for all the army jawans martyred in the fight against extremism. Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani mentioned that they regretted that PPP leader Rashid Rabbani could not be with them. He passed away days earlier from COVID.
Former Balochistan CM Abdul Malik Baloch said during his speech that Balochistan's insurgents should be brought to the table. "The talks initiated by the previous government should be taken forward."
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told SAMAA TV that he had heard about this and condemned it. He said they would find out what had happened.
The men who beat him have been identified as the PPP's youth wing's Shiraz Abbasi, Murad Khan, Shahbaz Gabol and Badshah Din.
PTM MNA Mohsin Dawar spoke about the need for truth commissions to investigate cases stretching back in history, what had happened in FATA and the deaths of several people such as Naqeebullah Mehsud and Arman Loni.
"Targeted killings in North Waziristan raise a big question mark on the performance of the country's security apparatus," he said. He asked for Prime Minister Imran Khan to make a truth commission to investigate the allegations he had leveled in the past and by Nawaz Sharif at the Gujranwala jalsa a day earlier. The truth commission should investigate all the martial laws in the country and the 'dollar war" imposed on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said.
The state can't be run as a "war franchise". States are run by giving people rights, he added.
Mian Nawaz Sharif will not be addressing the rally in Karachi, PML-N's spokesperson Muhammad Zubair confirmed to SAMAA Digital.
PPP leaders posted pictures and videos of caravans of people arriving for the rally. Education Minister Ghani asked people to wear face masks that PPP workers were distributing. The first PDM jalsa, in Gujranwala, was severely critisised for not being able to enforce SOPs.
Fully charged workers of PPP hyderabad ready to move for karachi jalsa. pic.twitter.com/Si1PeHxlgD— sharjeel inam memon (@sharjeelinam) October 18, 2020
Ahead of the rally, Maryam visited the Quaid's Mausoleum and paid respects there. On her way to the venue, Maryam said that the PML-N's narrative is based on principles.
"Quaid-e-Azam had said that governments should come and go through votes," she said, adding that she was overwhelmed by the love she received in the city.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman met former president Asif Ali Zardari at Ziauddin Hospital to check up on his health and discussed multiple political matters with him before the rally.
This was the Pakistan Democratic Movement's second rally in its anti-government campaign and was hosted by the PPP. The PML-N hosted the first rally in Gujranwala.
The rally was held at Jinnah Bagh, the ground next to Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah both toured the venue ahead of the rally to inspect the preparations.
The PPP claimed 100,000 people would attend the rally. Over 4,000 policemen were deputed for the security of the rally and the organisers prepared 100,000 masks for participants. Seats were also placed at a distance from each other to ensure social distancing.
Four gates were set up at the venue—one for PDM leaders, one for women, one for political workers and one for the media.
The federal government issued a No Objection Certificate for the rally but warned that the permission could be revoked at any time for any reason.
Three stages were set up—one for the main PDM leaders and two for senior leaders of opposition parties. Each stage was 160 feet long, 20 feet high and 50 feet wide. Barbed wire was also placed around the main stage where the PDM leaders sat.
The PDM, which is comprised of 11 opposition parties, has vowed to stage rallies across the country to begin a movement against the government. Its first rally was in Gujranwala on October 16.
The Karachi traffic police issued a traffic plan for the city a few days ago, and issued a parking plan for the rally on Sunday.
People attending the rally can park at Nishtar Park, Tai Karate Ground, Sharae Quaideen Khudad Colony Underpass and Corridor 3 Resident Engineer of Mazar-e-Quaid office.
People coming from outside Karachi can enter the city via Sohrab Goth and then proceed from Water Pump, Liaquatabad Dak Khana and Gurumandir to either Nishtar Park or Tai Karate Ground. They could also travel from Sohrab Goth to Abul Hassan Isphahani Road, take the Safari Park U-turn to get onto University Road and then proceed to New Town, Jail Flyover and PP Chowrangi to near the Resident Engineer office.
People coming from Thatta, District Malir and District East can arrive at Jinnah Bagh via Sharae Faisal to Karsaz to Stadium Road to New Town and to the Jail Flyover.
Gurumandir, Jamshed Road and Teen Hatti will be closed for regular traffic. Traffic on Sharae Quaideen will not be allowed to go any further than the Noorani signal.Traffic on University Road towards Jail Chowrangi will be diverted left towardsShaheed-e-Millat.
Corridor 3 will also be sealed for regular traffic from Regal Chowk to MA Jinnah Road. Heavy traffic will not be allowed on the routes from Nazimabad and Teen Hatti to Gurumandir. Heavy traffic can use the Nishtar Road route instead.
Heavy traffic is also not allowed from Liaquatabad Number 10 to Teen Hatti and Gurumandir or Sharae Quaideen to Society.