The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an 11-party opposition alliance, held a massive rally in Peshawar on Sunday despite refusal of permit from the government which cited the rise in Covid-19 cases.
Doctors had warned that Peshawar was fast becoming a new hot spot for coronavirus.
In his address to the rally, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari predicted that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan would be falling in January.
Earlier on Sunday, Khan accused the PDM leaders of “playing reckless politics with people’s safety”.
He tweeted that “the same PDM members who had wanted a strict lockdown and criticised me earlier [are] now playing reckless politics with people’s safety”.
He added, “They are even defying court orders and holding a jalsa (rally) when cases are rising dramatically.”
The opposition parties insist that they would observe safety precautions, and alleged that the government’s intentions to stop their rally was entirely political.
Information minister Shibli Faraz said that if Covid cases rose in Peshawar in the coming days, the government would register an FIR against PDM leaders.
In reply to the government’s insistence that the PDM postpone its rally, the joint leader of the opposition movement, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the Imran Khan government was a ‘big corona’ itself .
“This government is the representative of a stolen mandate. It is not the representative of the people,” said Rehman, while addressing a press conference in Peshawar.
Speaking of the government’s warnings against holding rallies, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) leader said that they found no other excuse, so started raising a hue and cry about the spread of coronavirus.
Besides Rahman and Bilawal, the rally was addressed by PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz, but not by former PM and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who addressed the previous PDM rally from London via a video link, apparently due to severe kidney pain.