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Pakistani Opposition Vows To Press Ahead With Rallies Calling On PM To Resign

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held an anti-government rally in Bannu, northwest Pakistan, on January 6. The alliance of political parties is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

An alliance of the nine opposition parties has announced a fresh series of demonstrations across the country as they pressed ahead their campaign to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down.

Leaders of the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) announced on January 18 they had agreed to organize anti-government rallies in several Pakistani cities in January and February.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters staged rallies in major Pakistani cities in November and December to call for Khan’s resignation and new “transparent” elections.

Opposition leaders allege that Khan was brought to power by the army through a rigged vote in July 2018 and accuse the military establishment of interference in civilian affairs. Khan is also accused of curbing civil liberties and restricting free press. Both the government and the military deny the allegations against them.

The next PDM protest is scheduled for January 19 in front of the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Islamabad to urge the body to rule on a years-long case in which the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party is accused of illegally collecting millions of rupees from individuals abroad.

Speaking to journalists on the eve of the protest, PDM leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman accused Khan of collecting funds in the name of charity and then using the money for "political disruptions" and "election rigging."

Under a 2017 election law, politicians and political parties are not allowed to accept funds from foreigners, and doing so can result in the dissolution of the party involved.

Also on January 18, the ECP suspended 154 senators, members of the National Assembly, and provincial legislators for failing to submit personal financial information. Those targeted included three federal ministers.

Lawmakers in Pakistan are required to submit statements on their assets and liabilities every year by December 31.

A statement from the election authorities said membership of the 154 lawmakers will remain suspended until they hand over the required information.