Pakistan opposition parties demand Imran Khan's resignation, announce roadmap to oust government

Leaders of Pakistani opposition parties meet at a multiparty moot in Islamabad on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, to announce a joint action plan to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan's government. (Photo courtesy of Pakistan People's Party)
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Updated 21 September 2020

Pakistan opposition parties demand Imran Khan's resignation, announce roadmap to oust government

  • Main opposition parties formed Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to start a countrywide campaign to hold new elections
  • They said they would resort to all democratic and constitutional means such no-confidence motions and en masse resignations from assemblies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani opposition parties on Sunday demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan to “immediately” resign as they announced a roadmap to oust the government during a day-long multiparty conference in Islamabad.
The country’s major opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) — formed an alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), to start a countrywide campaign to remove Khan's government and hold new elections.
“The APC (All-Parties Conference) demands immediate resignation of selected Prime Minister Imran Ahmed (Khan) Niazi,” the opposition parties said in a media statement released at the conclusion of the conference.
In October and December, under the banner of PDM, the parties said they would hold public gatherings across the country and would a “decisive long march” toward Islamabad in January to overthrow the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. 
They said they would resort to all democratic and constitutional means such no-confidence motions and en masse resignations from assemblies. 
The PTI came into power in 2018, after defeating all major opposition parties in general elections. It promised to hold accountable corrupt politicians, fix the country’s fragile economy and create job opportunities for the youth.
The opposition parties, however, said the government has made the life of a common man difficult through “record inflation, unemployment and a flurry of taxes,” and demanded that it bring down prices of sugar, cooking oil, petroleum products and utilities such as electricity.
“The crashed economy due to flawed policies of the government has become a serious threat Pakistan’s defense, atomic capability and sovereignty,” they said in a 26-point resolution, as they expressed concerns over “increasing role of establishment in the politics.”
“The establishment should immediately cease interference into the politics,” they said in the resolution, calling for transparent elections without any interference of the armed forces and agencies.
They also condemned “censorship and pressure on media” and demanded release of arrested journalists and incarcerated politicians.
A number of opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of PML-N and former President Asif Ali Zardari of PPP, have been facing corruption charges, which they term "politically motivated and fabricated."

In reaction to the opposition conference, Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Sunday said that a "peaceful protest is the right of the opposition parties," but the government "would not allow any violation of law." 

In a tweet, he added that the conference was "a flimsy attempt" to put pressure on the government "to back off on accountability" as the opposition "has used politics for personal gains."  


Pakistan gets lifeline till Feb 2021 as FATF continues to keep it on grey list

Updated 23 October 2020

Pakistan gets lifeline till Feb 2021 as FATF continues to keep it on grey list

  • The country has completed 21 out of 27 items of the global financial watchdog’s action plan, acknowledges FATF officials
  • The government of Pakistan has signaled the commitment to complete the rest of the action plan, says the FATF president

KARACHI: The global financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), decided on Friday to keep Pakistan on its “grey list” while acknowledging that the country had made significant progress in meeting international anti-terrorism financing norms and should not be downgraded to the “blacklist.”

The FATF began its virtual plenary meeting on October 21 under the first two-year German presidency of Dr Marcus Pleyer.

“Pakistan will remain our increased monitoring list,” he announced after the end of the conference. “The plenary recognizes that Pakistan has made progress. The government has now completed 21 out of 27 items of its action plan. The government of Pakistan has signaled the commitment to complete the rest of its action plan.”

“Even though Pakistan has made progress it needs to do more,” he continued. “It cannot stop now and needs to carry out reforms in particular to implement targeted financial sanctions and prosecuting sanctions financing terrorism.”

Responding to a question, the FATF president said that onsite inspection would be carried out after the next plenary in February 2021 to decide about Pakistan’s exclusion from the grey list.

Pakistan was placed on the list of countries with inadequate controls over terrorism financing by the FATF in June 2018.

The Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), an inter-governmental organization in the Asia-Pacific region, issued the first Follow Up Report (FUR) on Pakistan last month.

The report reflected the country’s performance until February 2020 and noted that it had complied with only two recommendations related to financial institution secrecy laws and financial intelligence units out of 40 recommendations on the effectiveness of anti-money laundering and combating financing terror (AML/CFT) system.

However, Pakistan managed to pass three crucial FATF-related laws during a joint session of parliament in September this year. With these laws, the country managed to comply with most of the legislation required by the international watchdog to strength the country’s financial system.

The FATF “strongly” urged Pakistan in February this year to complete its full action plan by June 2020, warning it would take action against the country which could include advising financial institutions to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan. Later, the deadline was extended and the country was given time until October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan also punished Hafiz Saeed, a Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader, in a terror financing case and decided to send him to prison for five and a half years.

Commenting on the FATF decision, financial experts said the decision to keep Pakistan on grey list owed to the government’s hasty legislation.

“The most vital issue relates to the roles assigned to the AML-CFT authority and self-regulatory bodies. These laws give powers to regulate AML-CFT to various government and professional bodies. They were not carefully drafted, create conflict of interest, and are complicated and ambiguous,” Dr Ikram ul Haq, a Lahore-based senior economist, said after the FATF decision.

The FATF blacklist have international pariah states like Iran and North Korea, and these countries are shunned by international financial institutions.