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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leadership said that prosperity of the country is based on democracy and vowed to send the government packing and restore "real" democracy.

Former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari expressed these views while opening the speech at All Parties Conference (APC) hosted by the PPP here on Sunday.

He said that the parliamentarians have constructed a protective wall around the constitution through the 18th Amendment, and now nobody can harm the constitution.

He said hat that we will send this government packing and will restore real democracy in the country. "We had not accepted this fake government from the start and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was the first person who had called this prime minister "a selected prime minister". He tried hard to save democracy in the last two years but it does not seem that this government has any intention of restoring democratic institutions.

He requested the participants of the APC to give such a strategy that can help establish real democracy because the basis of every country is its democracy and the prosperity comes after this. Zardari said that we had never seen such stringent censorship across the country. This reflects on the weakness of the government. Today, it is impossible to curtail the emerging voices of the media.

"We do not need PEMRA to raise our voice for the people because people are listening to us, they can ban our speeches on television but in an era when even a child from Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan can raise his voice through social media. This regime does not realize that putting the media in chains is now impossible," he said.

"We are the voice of every nation in Pakistan from Baloch to Punjabi, and from Pakhtun to South Punjabi within the framework of Pakistan. We want to progress with the entire Pakistan. We have not gathered here to only send this government packing but to establish real democracy afterwards. We have to save Pakistan and in the words of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, "Hum jeetain gey," he said. "I thank, I will be a first person who put behind the bars after my speech and the APC. But I request Mualana to come for meting in jail. I will wait this meeting," Zardari said.

Asif Ali Zardari prayed for the health of Nawaz Sharif and welcomed Maryam Nawaz in the APC and said that Maryam has also gone through difficulties and was imprisoned like Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and his sister. The pygmies and selected do not have any regard for the constitution but this constitution was drafted by very visionary and farsighted people and the 18th Amendment is a measure to restore the 1973 constitution.

While addressing the APC, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari hailed the PML-N founder Nawaz Sharif for giving a comprehensive speech and demanded a level-playing field not only in elections but also in courts, media forums, and in the Parliament as well.

In the beginning of his address, he thanked all the participants and said that we have gathered here to form a strategy for the future because in the last two years, this selected government has troubled the common people of Pakistan.

He said that without democracy in the country, the economic rights of the people are trampled over by antidemocratic forces. We can see the result of this selected government which has stalled economic growth, increased inflation and price hike, and with this lack of democracy, the society has weakened. The crimes in the country are on the increase while the law and order situation is worsening. We need elected people so that the voices of the weak are heard, he added.

"Today, we have seen that this selected government has left people abandoned at the mercy of natural disasters, pandemic and difficult times. This callous government had targeted our doctors, nurses and our paramedics during the times of Covid-19. People have lost their homes in one of the worst floods in the country, which is why every stratum of the society is protesting," he added.

He said that amongst us are the people who had struggled for democracy and peoples' rights in MRD and ARD, adding that we all have seen dictatorships and controlled democracy in Pakistan and this is the time to demand real democracy.

"This is our responsibility to unite and struggle for real democracy. This is the time to make a new Charter of Democracy and to take it to people from Balochistan to Azad Kashmir and the rural areas. If we are not allowed to spread this message through the media, then we would have to go door to door and transform the peoples' support into our strength. We have to challenge not only this government but its facilitators from the streets, but also from the places that they are occupying right now. They are occupying the National Assembly and the Senate but we have to free our Parliament," he added.

He said that we cannot give hope to the people until we obtain freedom for them. He asked for advice from the participants and said that every decision taken in this forum will be pursued till the end. If we have to pay sacrifices to get freedom for our people, we will do so. We will free our people, he vowed.

While addressing the APC, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman proposed en-bloc resignations from the assemblies and immediate dissolution of the Sindh Assembly.

He said that the decision regarding resignations from the assemblies should be taken in APC today (Sunday).

Maulana said that the bottom line is that he no longer believes in verbal claims and "traditional stances", adding that instead of that, the opposition parties have come up with its decision in writing.

He said that the restrictions have been imposed on media that they are not broadcasting our speeches and gatherings of millions of people.

"We have to decide today whether we will resign from the assemblies. The assemblies, including the prime minister, and in my opinion, the Senate Chairman, are all fake", he maintained.

The JUI-F chief also protested for not airing his speech live. While recording his protest on the occasion, the JUI-F chief said that the media was not showing his speech and even the APC has also stopped it from being aired live.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020