LAHORE: An adamant opposition kicked off its final showdown at Lahore’s Minar-i-Pakistan today (Sunday) as the ‘first phase’ of its anti-government campaign, under the 11-party alliance named the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), came to a close.

The alliance is expected to announce the second phase of its campaign at today’s rally. The public meeting came despite the PDM leaders being issued security threat alerts as well as being requested by the government to not hold public gatherings as the second Covid-19 wave intensifies. Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar warned the opposition of necessary action being taken if laws were violated.

The gathering is to be addressed by the usual bigwigs of the PDM; its convener and Jamiat Ulema Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman; Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples’ Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; besides being addressed by leaders of the opposition parties that are a part of the alliance.

The opposition leaders reached Minar-i-Pakistan from PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s house; where they had gathered for a luncheon and last-minute discussions. Crowds of party supporters were said to have started gathering at the historic venue since last night; while many coming in from other cities had begun assembling at the various interchanges; leading to Lahore early in the morning.

Preparations for the rally had begun days before; with opposition leaders visiting the venue to review them from time to time. The PML-N vice president along with other party leaders also held corner meetings in Lahore over the course of the week to canvass support for the rally. The PML-N leader also visited the meeting’s venue last night to take stock of the arrangements.

Opposition Resignations

On December 8, the PDM announced that all parliamentarians belonging to its constituent parties would submit their resignations from the national and provincial assemblies to their respective party chiefs by December 31 – finally opting for a last-ditch attempt to send the PTI-led government packing.

The announcement was made at a news conference by the JUI-F chief at a news conference in Islamabad; where he was accompanied by Bilawal and Maryam; after the leadership of the alliance held a meeting to agree on the opposition’s future course of action.

“Opposition lawmakers from the national and provincial assemblies will submit their resignations to their party heads by December 31,” the Maulana said; ruling out any possibility of engaging in a dialogue with the PTI government.