PDM’s maiden meeting in the city of wrestlers
Parties in the nascent opposition alliance – Pakistan Democratic Movement – are making all possible efforts to bring maximum people to the maiden Oct 16 public meeting to be held at Gujranwala, which is also known as city of wrestlers.
Initially the event had been planned long ago by the PML-N, the biggest component of the opposition coalition, but is now being staged from the PDM’s platform to convey an impression to the electorates that all anti-government elements are united against the Imran Khan government.
The government though has allowed the opposition to organize rallies, is using its resources to keep the participation in the Gujranwala event as less as possible. The ruling PTI has also scheduled a parallel rally in the city the same day, although intelligence agencies want it cancelled as there is a threat of a clash between the participants of the rival events.
What not many people know is the fact that the Gujranwala public meeting is being held only a few kilometres away from Gakkar Mandi, the native village of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has repeatedly assured the government that his institution will extend it all possible support within the limits of law and the Constitution.
(When the term of Gen Bajwa as COAS had been extended to 2023 in the light of a Supreme Court order, all parties in the government and opposition had supported the legislation introduced for the purpose).
Gujranwala is a divisional headquarters with districts of Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad and Mandi Bahauddin falling under its territorial jurisdiction.
Gujranwala is predominantly a pro-PML-N district, although nearby Gujrat district belongs to the Chaudhrys, whose PML-Q is a coalition partner with the PTI.
Army Chief’s village Gakkar Mandi falls between Gujranwala and Gujrat on the GT Road and the mood and role of its residents for the PDM public meeting will be reflective of Gen Bajawa’s influence and tilt.
The Oct 16 PDM rally will mark the beginning of the anti-government movement, aimed at bringing the present setup down before January, to quote Maryam Nawaz, the de facto PML-N boss in the absence of her father.
It may be pointed out that in March next year 50 per cent seats of the Senate are due to fall vacant and will be filled through voting by provincial legislators. It is expected that on account of the present strength of the PTI and its allies in the provincial assemblies, they will get majority seats in the upper house. And being already in majority in the National Assembly, it will be in a position to have any legislation passed from the bicameral legislature.
Opposition parties regard such a situation a bad omen for them and that’s why they want to oust the present setup before that day.
For this purpose they are considering various options to make the present system dysfunctional. They are weighing the option of tendering resignations from the assemblies as the ultimate step. When a large number of seats are vacant because of resignations, holding of Senate elections will become impossible.