'Azadi march': Opposition agrees marchers won't enter Red Zone

Inks agreement with PTI govt; protesters permitted to enter Islamabad

​ Our Correspondents October 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD/ BANNU: The government and the opposition parties on Saturday agreed that the participants of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) ‘Azadi march’ on October 31 would gather at a ground in H-9 Sector, but not enter the federal capital’s Red Zone.

A written agreement has been signed between the Islamabad deputy commissioner and JUI-F Islamabad General Secretary Mufti Mohammad Abdullah.

“The opposition has assured us that they will not block roads and whether it is a rally or a sit-in, it will be a peaceful one,” Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, the head of the government team formed to negotiate with the opposition parties on the upcoming rally, told the media. “There will be no obstacles for the protesters as long as they remain peaceful.”

The minister also said the joint opposition’s Rahbar Committee had neither demanded the prime minister’s resignation, nor fresh elections.

“This isn’t a deal or an NRO. We are democratic people and have sorted out the matter accordingly,” he added.

Earlier, JUI-F’s Akram Durrani, the head of the Rahbar Committee, also announced that the participants of ‘Azadi march’ would not enter Islamabad’s Red Zone.

“The opposition parties have unanimously decided that the protesters will not enter the Red Zone,” he said at a news conference in Bannu.

“We will march on the road and the protest will not be a prolonged one,” he added. “Further decisions will be made according to the situation.”

The JUI-F leader said the opposition wanted the prime minister’s resignation, transparent elections and protection of the Islamic provisions in the Constitution.

He also rejected the government’s ban on the JUI-F’s security wing, Ansarul Islam.

“The ban is beyond comprehension. There’s a lot of fuss about the volunteers of Ansarul Islam carrying sticks. The sticks are for protection.”

The agreement

The agreement signed between the Islamabad deputy commissioner and the JUI-F - a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune - read that the government would neither create hurdles for the protesters, nor block their food supply.

The opposition, in view of the verdicts of the apex court and the Islamabad High Court, would ensure that the basic rights of public were not affected due to their protest.

The opposition parties would ensure that the protesters do not leave the designated venue. Besides, they would also be responsible for their internal security.

The organisers of the protest would submit in writing to the Islamabad administration that they would abide by all the clauses mentioned on the no-objection certificate.

If any of the clauses on the NOC or the agreement were violated, action would be taken against the protesters. The agreement would be deemed null and void.

The government would also take appropriate action against the protesters if they damage public or private property or harm anyone.

Marchers ready

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman will lead the ‘Azadi march’ caravan from Karachi on Sunday (today). He will also address a rally held in connection with Kashmir Day.

Activists of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Awami National Party and other opposition parties will join the rally.

Guidelines have been issued to the marchers to maintain order and discipline. A special truck has been prepared for the JUI-F chief. The marchers will depart from Sohrab Goth where they will be joined by caravans from Balochistan arriving from Hub.

After the Kashmir solidarity gathering in Sohrab Goth, the marchers will leave for Hyderabad. They will reach Sukkur at around 8pm and stay the night at Rohri Bus Stand. Other caravans from Balochistan will join them there. They will leave for Punjab the next day through Ubauro.

The marchers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would gather at meeting points in Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Charsadda and Buner.

A rally to express solidarity with Kashmiris will be held at the JUI-F Secretariat in Peshawar. The caravans would then join at a meeting point on GT Road.

The ANP has decided to use the motorway for their journey to Islamabad. The Pakistan Peoples Party on Saturday announced participation in the Azadi march.

JUI-F Balochistan leader Maulana Abdul Wasay has warned the provincial government against trying to stop the marchers.

“Our party will block all the highways in the province if the government tries to stop us,” he said at a news conference in Quetta.

A JUI-F convoy will start from Baleli Road in Quetta and reach Islamabad via the Loralai-Dera Ghazi Khan route.

Marchers will also leave from Turbat, Gwadar, Chaghi and Naushki.

(With additional input from our correspondents in Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta)




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