Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of his eponymous faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, has put to rest all speculation about what he calls ‘Azadi March’ announcing on Thursday that the “march to oust the government would begin on October 27”.
The two main opposition parties – the PPP and the PML-N – tried earlier this week to talk the politico-religious leader out of ‘going solo’ with the anti-government rally, but to no avail.
A PML-N delegation met the Maulana on Wednesday to convince him against ‘solo flight’ and the JUI-F chief at a joint presser following that meeting dropped a hint that his party might consider the proposal.
PML-N, PPP oppose ‘solo flight’ against govt
However, an intra-party consultative session of the JUI-F top cadres on Thursday decided against delaying what it calls ‘Azadi March’. The Maulana, flanked by his top party aides, told the media following the session that their march would begin on October 27.
“We have decided to march against the government on October 27… this day is observed as a black day by Kashmiris across the world and we will also express solidarity with them…,” he said.
He claimed that JUI-F delegations from across the country would converge on the federal capital on Oct 27 to “rid the country of the incompetent government” of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf which, according to him, has destroyed the economy.
Maulana Fazl hinted at staging a sit-in (dharna) at Islamabad’s D-Chowk where the PTI had staged a marathon dharna in 2014 against alleged rigging in the 2013 elections. “We are not ones to disperse easily,” the cleric said.
The JUI-F chief’s announcement stirred up speculation that he has disregarded the proposal of the other opposition parties by ‘going solo’. “We’re in contact with all the other parties and making decisions in consultation with them,” he claimed.
He further claimed that he has received positive message from PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who met him earlier in the day and from a PML-N delegation which met him a day earlier.
The JUI-F claimed that all opposition parties had consensus on the fact that the incumbent government has come to power as a result of a rigged election and that it has to go.
“All opposition parties agree that fresh elections should be held to find out who has the real mandate of the people,” he said.
Maulana Fazl said not only political workers but every segment of society, including lawyers, doctors, businessmen and the common man, would join his party’s ‘Azadi March’. Asked if the PPP and PML-N would also participate, he said: “Insha Allah.”
“We respect all institutions, including the army, and will never confront them,” he added while hinting that his party was open to mediation but not direct negotiations with the government, on the matter.
“I can only accept mediation offer, only if someone assures that our principled stance on issues will be respected,” he said. “They [government] have compromised on Kashmir and sold it… I will issue a detailed statement to explain what they have done with the country.”
‘[This] is not democracy’
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan hit out at the JUI-F’s protest call. “Using pupils of religious seminaries (madrassahs) as human shield is not democracy,” she said on Twitter.
مولانا صاحب! قومی خزانے کو بے رحمی سے لوٹنے والوں کو بچانے کیلئے اسلام اور قانون کی مخالف سمت نہ کھڑے ہوں۔عمران خان کے خلاف سڑک پر نکلنے کا مطلب کرپشن کو لائسنس دینے کے مترادف ہے۔مولانا سیاست مدارس کے معصوم بچوں کے سر پر نہ کریں۔— Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan (@Dr_FirdousPTI) October 3, 2019
مدارس کے معصوم بچوں کو سیاسی مفاد کے لیے انسانی شیلڈ بنانا کوئی جمہوریت نہیں۔— Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan (@Dr_FirdousPTI) October 3, 2019
“Maulana Sahib should not go against the law and Islam by protecting those who have looted the nation with impunity,” she said. “Staging street protest against Imran Khan is synonymous with giving a licence to corruption.”
Firdous also pointed out that even the two mainstream opposition parties whose leaders are in jail for corruption were not in favour of the Maulana’s march.
“The two parties [PPP and PML-N) don’t want to take the risk of standing with the Maulana. Those who are not true to each other can never be true to people,” she added.
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