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PDM holds Karachi rally amid scramble for new political equilibrium

Govt plans to call joint Parliament session next week

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 13, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Nov 13, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

JUIF volunteers are seen at the Regal Chowk in Karachi on Sunday, November 13, 2021

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is holding a rally at Karachi’s busy Regal Chowk today as the ruling coalition and opposition parties were found in a scramble for a new political equilibrium.

While the opposition explores pressure tactics and the possibility of an “in house” change, the government is planning to call a joint session of Parliament as early as next week to pass key legislation.

Both camps and the groups within them are weighing options.

PDM Rally

The PDM is holding a rally at the Regal Chowk Karachi to protest the rising inflation, according to the organisers. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Shehbaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abassi and other leaders are expected to address.

Hundreds of workers from the PDM parties, especially Fazlur Rehman’s JUIF, have gathered at this busy intersection in the city, SAMAA TV‘s Salman Ahmed has reported.

Karachi traffic police have closed at least five roads leading to Regal Chowk and released a traffic plan.

Roads leading to Regal from Gulzar Chowk, Bismillah Chowk, MA Jinnah Road, Tibbet Centre and Fresco Sweets have been closed for traffic, according to the traffic plan.

The police have diverted traffic to other roads.

On November 7, the PDM had announced that it would hold protests in different cities before a long march on Islamabad in December.

The PDM is also trying to bring the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) back to its fold. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met with Fazlur Rehman on Friday and proposed that opposition forces united to bring about an “in house” change. Fazlur Rehman assured him that hey would discuss the proposal with other opposition parties.

PPP announce Peshawar rally

Both PDM and PPP plan to pressure the government with their protest rallies. It has rattled the government. Federal Minister Asad Umar on Friday warned that if PDM marchers entered Islamabad they would be given a thorough beating.

The PPP on Saturday announced that it would hold a rally in Peshawar on November 30 to commemorate its foundation day, SAMAA‘s Abbas Shabbir reported from Islamabad.

PPP’s Faisal Karim Kundi claimed the local authorities had refused to grant permission for the rally, but his party would go ahead with its plan.

“By attempting to stop PPP rally, the PTI has proved that it is afraid of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,” he said.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan used to mock in the past that he would supply shipping containers and food if opposition parties held rallies, and now his government was trying to ban public gatherings.

Scramble at the Parliament

The opposition strategy is not limited to holding political rallies. A more important struggle has begun at the Parliament where the government wants to pass key legislation from a joint session of Parliament as it lack numbers to pass the bill in the Senate. However, it had to postpone a joint session last week after it coalition partners PMLQ and MQM backtracked on their support for the legislation.

The government and opposition are holding separate meetings to hammer out their respective strategy.

The opposition parties have called a meeting of their steering committee on Sunday at 11am. The virtual meeting would work out a plan for the National Assembly session.

The government, meanwhile, is planning to convene a joint session of Parliament early next week, SAMAA TV’s Usman Khan reported.

The PTI is trying to placate its ally PMLQ, which held a meeting on Friday to discuss its reservations about PTI’s Punjab government.

PMLQ will hold another meeting on Sunday morning.

Sources say PTI may call the joint session early next week after winning over its allies. The opposition parties have told their MPs to stay in the federal capital to preempt the next government move, Shabbir says.

For the past three years, the PTI government only once came under pressure when Fazlur Rehman led Azadi March took to Islamabad and paved the way for Nawaz Sharif’s release.

The PTI has ruled with considerable ease since then, maintaining a status quo. Now, with opposition parties marching on the street and government allies expressing distrust, the PTI could face a new political equilibrium that it wants to avoid. The first step for the government to reintroduce the old counterpoise is to get the delayed legislation passed from the joint session of Parliament.

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