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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman Wednesday said that the alliance of the opposition parties was seeking opinion from constitutional experts for breaking the electoral college of the Senate through resignations from national and provincial assemblies.

Talking to reporters along with PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and other opposition leaders, after hosting a lunch for them at his residence, the PDM president, who is also the JUI-F chief, warned that the upcoming Senate election would be "fake" and would have no credibility, if conducted through the current provincial and national assemblies - the electoral college for the Senate.

"We consider breaking the electoral college of Senate as part of our democratic and constitutional struggle. We are working on a strategy for this and are also seeking opinion from constitutional experts," Maulana said in response to a question, a move to prevent the PTI from taking the lead in the Senate in result of the March 2021 election on the grounds of its majority in the Punjab and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The statement comes a day after the PDM announced that parliamentarians from opposition political parties in the alliance would submit their resignations to respective party heads by December 31, 2020.

"We don't accept this government as democratic, constitutional or representative of the people...The establishment continues to safeguard it...If the establishment continues to safeguard such a government then how can it be called a democratic system?" the JUI-F chief asked.

Responding to a question about PPP's senior leader Aitzaz Ahsan's point of view with regard to en masse resignations from assemblies, the PPP Chairman, Bilawal, said that the party would soon convene its Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting and the PDM's decision would be put before it and everyone would be allowed to express their views including Aitzaz Ahsan.

"What decision the CEC takes would be the decision of the party and also of Aitzaz Ahsan," he added.

Aitzaz had stated that opposition's resignations were not enough to dissolve the national and provincial assemblies, as the ruling PTI needed only 172 members in the National Assembly, adding only 84 members - required to maintain the quorum of the 342-member Lower House of the Parliament - was enough to run the house.

"All the opposition parties are on one page and on one stage. We started from holding all parties' conference on 20th September in Islamabad, and we had said that we will take every section of society along with us. Resignations were also one of the options in the communiqué issued after the APC. We are ready to use every mean to send this "selected" government packing," he said, adding that they had several options and resignation was also one of them.

In response to another question, Bilawal said that the PPP had started its politics from the streets, and the PPP had fought dictators in the streets, so the history of struggle against dictators went back a long way.

Responding to a query, Maryam Nawaz said that it was a "unanimous" decision of all the parities in the PDM, which Maulana had announced the other day with regards to resignations to be submitted to respective party heads by December 31st.

She said that the Lahore rally would take place at Minar-e-Pakistan, despite, the obstacles created by the provincial government to prevent the opposition from the public meeting by filling the ground with water.

Meanwhile, the steering committee of the PDM decided that the opposition parties would hold a "long march" towards Islamabad in the last week of January 2021, which would be followed by exercising the option of resignations from the assemblies.

This was decided in the steering committee meeting of the PDM chaired by its convener Ahsan Iqbal, and attended by other members from all the 11 parties in the alliance.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, PDM Secretary Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that the decisions taken by the committee would be formally announced in Lahore rally on December 13, which included the "long march" towards Islamabad in the last week of coming January, countrywide wheel-jam and shutter down strike, and the next course of action of the PDM as part of its anti-government movement.

He also criticised the government for creating obstacles in the PDM's Lahore rally, saying that the previous government had allowed the PTI for 126 days to stage a sit-in in Islamabad without creating any hurdle.

"We will not allow the government to hide behind the coronavirus...the opposition will hold its scheduled rally while observing the SOPs," he said.

In response to a question about security threats to the Lahore rally and the PDM leadership, Ahsan Iqbal said that it was the responsibility of the government to provide security to the people and make foolproof security arrangements.

He said that his party's government had provided security to the PTI's sit-in, and its leadership in 2014, when the country was dealing with serious terrorism challenge.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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