The stage is set for what the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leaders claim would be a mammoth public rally to be attended by around one million people in Peshawar on Sunday.
“Around one million people are expected to attend the Islam Zindabad Conference,” JUI-F spokesperson Haji Abdul Jalil Jan told The Express Tribune. Jan said that preparations were complete for the meeting for which the party has been working on for a few months. Around 5,000 volunteers will also be deployed for security purposes.
The spokesperson claimed that a stage made out of 24 containers had been prepared, while about 25,000 chairs were arranged for in the open ground, with more chairs being placed in the meeting place at the Motorway Chowk.
Jan said that party leaders, including chief Fazlur Rehman, Abdul Ghaffoor Haideri, Mohammad Khan Sherani, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, and Gul Naseeb Khan would speak on the occasion.
The party vigorously advertised the public meeting at prominent places across the provincial capital, with activists riding on motorcycles to announce the rally, while a majority of the local newspapers published advertisements for it.
Big meetings amid attacks
The JUI-F’s public meeting is taking place amid heightened activity of religious parties. The Jamaat-e- Islami (JI) had arranged a massive rally in Battakhela on Mach 21, claiming it to be the biggest public gathering in the history of Malakand.
This was seen as an attempt to reassert itself in Malakand, which has been a stronghold of its power in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), in the aftermath of the crippling militant insurgency and a series of military operations.
Interestingly, a meeting of the Awami National Party (ANP) came under attack in Nowshera around a month back, while the Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao’s (PPP-S) chief also met a similar fate earlier this month in Charsadda.
However, religious parties remain active in arranging political meetings and rallies without fear of such attacks, and continue making efforts to reach out to the people in the remote areas of K-P.
Both the JUI-F and JI, allies in the former Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), have failed to resume their alliance. Fazl indirectly warned the JI that they could lose public support, if they continued to rebuff his efforts for an electoral alliance.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2012.