Pakistani Opposition Launches Protest Movement To Topple Khan Government
By RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal October 16, 2020
Opposition supporters are gathering in the Pakistani city of Gujranwala to kick start an effort by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance to topple the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The PDM, a broad alliance of at least nine opposition parties, is holding its first rally in Gujranwala on October 16, ahead of a series of planned demonstrations across the country in the coming months.
"Today's rally is beginning of the end of Khan's government," said Marriyum Aurangzeb, spokesperson for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.
As political workers started arriving at the rally's venue, opposition leaders accused the government of attempting to thwart the event.
"They have blocked roads with shipping containers at 31 points and it seems the city is under siege," former Foreign Minister Khurram Dastgir said, according to dpa.
Three top opposition leaders, Maryam Nawaz Sharif of the PML-N, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat Ulema-e Islam are set to address the gathering.
Gujranwala, located in Punjab Province, is the political bastion of ex-PML-N leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif is currently residing in London after being released from prison earlier this year for medical treatment. In August, he broke a nearly yearlong silence from exile by vowing to oust Khan from office through protests.
The opposition accuses Khan of only winning the 2018 general election with help from the country's military, which has an oversized role in the domestic and foreign affairs of the South Asian nation.
He is also accused of targeting the opposition parties in the name of accountability.
The prime minister has denied the charges.
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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