ISLAMABAD: Despite efforts by the government to persuade the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to change the date of its planned 'anti-inflation' march to Islamabad, the opposition alliance on Tuesday announced that the protest would go ahead as planend on March 23, or Pakistan Day.
PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman made the announcement while speaking to the media after a meeting of the PDM leadership in Islamabad.
The government had urged the opposition alliance to switch the date of the march as a military parade would be held on the occasion, while a session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) would also take place in the capital on that day.
When asked how the PDM and its workers enter the federal capital due to the security arrangements in place because of the events, he said that the government was aware of the date of the planned protest. "The PDM will enter."
He said that the military parade would be done by zuhr (afternoon prayer) and that the PDM marchers would arrive after that.
PDM chief said that all members of the opposition alliance had decided that the protest against the government would be held as per schedule and the date would not be changed. He added that those in the alliances would mobilise workers to make the protest successful.
Interior minister Sheikh Rashid had recently suggested that the opposition alliance move up the protest while also hinting that the government might consider sealing the federal capital due to high security events like the military parade and OIC moot.
“People from all corners of the country will turn to Islamabad on March 23,” he said, adding that farmers would fully participate in the march.
He also criticized the government over its handling of the economy. "The government was non-serious itself, it is also treating the country's economy in a non-serious manner," he remarked while reiterating his party's opposition to the recently passed mini-budget and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) bill
The meeting was attended by PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maryam Aurangzeb, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Bilal Kayani.
Abdul Malik, Aftab Sherpao, Owais Noorani of National Party, Hafiz Abdul Karim of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Hafiz Hamdullah were also present in the meeting.
Apart from them, Ahsan Iqbal, Maryam Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif participated in the meeting through video link.
The meeting reviewed the strategy for the March 23 long march and also discussed in-house change. The recommendations of the PDMs steering committee were considered and the foreign funding case against PTI was also reviewed. The report of Transparency International was also reviewed during the meeting.