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APC set for Sept 20 as opposition leaders express concern for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the Opposition parties announced on Thursday that an all-parties conference (APC) has been scheduled for September 20 at the Zardari House in the federal capital.

Addressing a press conference here in Islamabad, opposition leaders — including the former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, MNA and JUI leader Akram Khan Durrani, and former interior minister and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, slammed the incumbent PTI-led government for “destroying” Pakistan in its two years.

“The situation in the country has reached a stage where we cannot afford even a moment’s delay,” JUI’s Durrani said, announcing that the APC would be held on September 20 at the Zardari House in Islamabad.

“We want free and fair elections in the country, with no interference whatsoever,” he added, terming the 2018 general elections “a disgrace to the whole country”.

New election or in-house change?

Durrani said the opposition parties had had a consultation, wherein they decided that giving the PTI-led regime another day would be an injustice to Pakistan. “This government has destroyed the country in its two years” of rule, he added.

The upcoming APC, he added, would decide on the future plan of action as the opposition leaders had already made up their minds on numerous issues the country facing currently. However, the Rahbar Committee meeting was focused on one point, on which all participants were “on the same page”.

“The APC will decide whether there will be a new election or an in-house change.”

PPP’s Ashraf said the opposition parties have been clear that “we will not back down on any legislation in the country’s interest and present our amendments to laws in the proposed legislation that are in conflict with human rights”.

He said the opposition parties realised the importance of the legislation pertaining to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which was why “we played our responsible role”.

Propaganda against opposition ‘must end’

“Our members worked day and night for the FATF-related legislation. We are ready to fulfil the related demands,” he added, noting that it was absolutely “wrong and absurd” to claim that the opposition parties were opposing the FATF-related laws in exchange of NRO.

“We were and are ready to do as much as the FATF wants.” he said, adding the government bulldozed the matter just because of the FATF issue.

“The opposition [parties] are a representative of the people of Pakistan and, therefore, propaganda must now end” against them, the PPP leader said, claiming that more than half of Pakistan formed the opposition.

“We do not want legislation that the government can use against the opposition. Pakistan belongs to all of us, no one can bear seeing Pakistan in trouble.

“How can it be possible for us to be in favour of keeping Pakistan on the grey list?”

‘What kind of democracy is this?’

PML-N’s Iqbal, on the other hand, criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan and his regime, saying the government was “constantly spreading anarchy in Pakistan”.

“How can the prime minister taunt us by saying we speak India’s narrative on the FATF? How can he say the opposition and India have the same position regarding the FATF?

“The prime minister should reflect on his own self. I wish Imran Khan would have considered going to other countries to take up the case of Kashmir.

“I wish Imran Khan would have been as speedy for the Kashmir issue as he is at coming up with cases against the opposition. What kind of democracy is this where the opposition is labelled as treasonous?”

Demand relief package for Karachi businesses

Iqbal also spoke of the torrential rains that lashed Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

“We expressed solidarity with the people today over the devastation caused by the rains across the country,” Iqbal said. “We witnessed the worst situation in Karachi due to the widespread rains.”

“We regret the losses caused by rains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh,” he added, noting that the federal government did not appear to be taking any action anywhere in the country in this regard.

“The federal government should put aside the political differences and help the provinces,” he demanded.

The former interior minister explained that people’s businesses in Karachi had been destroyed due to the rain and they needed a relief package.

Iqbal said PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and other senior leaders would join the APC on his party’s behalf.

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