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15-day PDM protest against inflation begins

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• Workers, activists gather in front of Rawalpindi Press Club
• Murree Road remains choked for hours

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on Wednesday kicked off its 15-day nationwide protest from Rawalpindi against continuous rise in prices of petroleum products and edibles.

In the first step, the PDM will stage protests in big cities of the country and afterwards, it will take a decision about holding public meetings or a long march. Political workers and activists of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat ulema-i-Islam- Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) led by Rawalpindi Mayor Sardar Naseem Khan and JUI-F leader Dr Ziaur Rehman gathered in front of Rawalpindi Press Club.

Former minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Tahira Aurangzeb, Daniyal Chaudhry and Hanif Abbasi also joined the protest and staged a sit-in for an hour on Murree Road. Due to the protest and sit-in, the traffic jam was witnessed on Murree Road – which connects the garrison city with Islamabad. All other linked roads connecting to Murree Road were choked.

Protesters were carrying party flags, placards, banners, portraits of Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif. They were chanting slogans in favour of their leaders and against Prime Minister Imran Khan and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. Most of the participants were also chanting ‘Down with IMF’.

It must be noted that this is the first protest where PML-N former MNA Hanif Abbasi has appeared in public after three years of silence. He was sentenced in the Ephedrine case during the 2018 elections but was later acquitted from the special court after no evidence was found against him.

PML-N workers and activists gathered in the protest in large numbers as all local leaders brought out small rallies and joined the main demonstration on Murree Road. All PML-N representatives wore black dresses. Some workers even wore roti (bread) around their necks. Only a few JUI-F flags were seen however party representatives chanted slogans in favour of their leadership and against the government.

The protest began at 3pm and continued till evening.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Aurangzeb said that the present government snatched bread from the mouths of people with increased prices. “The country is facing the worst time as the government failed to control the economics and security issues,” she said, adding inflation has forced people to commit suicide which is why the central leadership of PDM has played the role of saviour of the nation.

She added that the poor have not been able to pay their house rent, utility bills or buy edibles, adding, due to presence of the corrupt PTI government, the poor become poorer and rich become richer. She said that more than 60 percent people in the country lived below the poverty line.

Other PDM leaders said that the country cannot afford more thieves. Because of these thieves, they said, the purchasing power of the people has reduced so they will now have no other option but to take to the streets.

Meanwhile, due to the protest, local police increased security around Lal Haveli which is the political office of Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2021

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