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Pak opposition needs to 'stick together' if they really intend to restore democracy: EFSAS

ANI | Updated: Oct 03, 2020 16:01 IST

Amsterdam [Netherlands], October 3 (ANI): As opposition parties in Pakistan have formed a new united front with an aim of restoring "genuine and undiluted" democracy in the country, an European think tank said the opposition parties will need to "stick together" if they really intend to "loosen the stranglehold that the military establishment has had over governance and indeed the economy".
The leaders of 11 Pakistani opposition parties, prominent among which were the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Awami National Party (ANP), and Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (JUI), at the conclusion of the All Parties Conference (APC) on September 20 announced the formation of a joint platform, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
"In the backdrop of these positive indications, the opposition will need to stick together if it really intends to loosen the stranglehold that the military establishment has had over governance and indeed the economy, of the country ever since its inception in 1947," the European Foundation of South Asian Studies (EFSAS), said in a commentary.
The 26-point resolution adopted by the APC pledged to ensure that all organs of the state are run strictly as mandated under the law.
It called for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to probe abuses against the people since Pakistan's independence in 1947. Such an investigation cannot but reveal a long, sordid history of military abuses.
It also demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan and his ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party step down and announce fresh nationwide elections.
The PDM proposes to launch a mass protest campaign comprising public gatherings, political rallies, no-confidence motions, en masse resignations from assemblies and, finally, a long march in January that will culminate in a sit-in in the capital Islamabad until their demands are met.
"It the protest programme proceeds on the planned lines, it has the potential to present major challenges to Pakistan's stability in the months ahead," the EFSAS said.
"The extent of the discomfiture that the formation of the PDM and radical nature of its stated aspirations generated in the establishment can be gauged from the fact that within days, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, who otherwise was known to be in the good books of the establishment, was arrested on corruption and money-laundering charges," it added.
The think tank noted that the previous efforts towards opposition unity have not yielded encouraging results, and have hence failed to inspire confidence in the masses.
"In May 2019, the PPP and the PML-N had announced the launch of anti-government protests citing spiralling inflation as the key reason. No such protests were, however, launched, and the two parties then decided to bring a motion to remove the Chairman of the Senate, the upper house of the Pakistani Parliament, who belonged to the ruling PTI," it said.
However, the EFSAS also noted that this time around the opposition is much more inclusive.
"With the greater number of parties involved, and the wide range of ideologies that these parties subscribe to, the scope for disagreements is more. Trust issues and conflicting personal and party interests also abound," it said.
"That said, if it is indeed the genuine intention of the PDM to reclaim the political turf that is rightfully its, the only way it can do so is by standing up firmly to the military establishment that has been the usurper of its workspace and the pillager of its country's abundant resources," it added. (ANI)