Opposition alliances observe ‘black day’ today
By Qamar Jabbar
LAHORE: The two major opposition alliances, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) will begin 2005 by observing a ‘Black Day’ throughout Pakistan to protest President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s decision to hold two offices.
In the second phase of its anti-government movement, the MMA will hold protest demonstration throughout the country by carrying black flags and wearing black armbands. In Lahore, the MMA will hold protests at Yateem Khana Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Wahdat Coloney Chowk and Lohari Chowk. The ARD will stage a sit-in at Nicholson Road in front of late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan’s residence. Makhdoom Amin Faheem, the ARD chairman, and other leaders of the alliance’s component parties will speak at the protest.
Punjab Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Liaqat Baloch here Friday issued a circular to all divisional, district and tehsil offices to observe the Black Day by taking out processions on important roads. He directed the party workers to hoist black flags on party offices, houses and other prominent places in their tehsils and union councils. Baloch directed party workers that following this day, protests would be taken out periodically and the next programme would be announced after each demonstration. The former Punjab general secretary of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, while addressing a workers meeting, said that the ARD was observing the Black Days on the religious alliance’s call and in the future both alliances would hold joint public meetings to press rulers into holding midterm polls under the supervision of an independent election commission.
Zulfiqar Ghuman adds from Islamabad: The two opposition alliances, Muthidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), will mark a “Black Day” today (Saturday) against the decision by President General Pervez Musharraf to retain both his offices beyond December 31. The MMA had decided to mark the day in its December 19 protest gathering at Liaqat Bagh in Rawalpindi. The ARD also decided to join ranks with MMA on the “Remove Musharraf and Save the Country,” agenda on December 30 after the president, in his televised address to the nation, announced he would retain both the offices of chief of army staff (COAS) and president. The president had promised earlier to relinquish his army job by December 31, 2004 but changed his mind after both the houses of the parliament passed a bill allowing Musharraf to hold the two offices beyond the given date, and also on the assertion that the side he had made the agreement with – the MMA – had not kept its part of the bargain. The MMA plans to mark the day in districts and tehsils with local leaders leading protest rallies wearing black armbands. “The MMA will take out peaceful rallies throughout the country along with the ARD. Workers and leaders of both the alliances have been advised not to create problems for citizens,” said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the MMA secretary general.
There will be 14 rallies in Islamabad led by local leaders of the component parties.