Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman hollered at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led federal government on Thursday, addressing a massive crowd at the Quaid's Mazar. "We do not believe in either Imran Khan or Israel," he bellowed, accusing the premier of having received funding from Israel and India for the 2018 general elections.
Major thoroughfares of the metropolis were choked on the day as JUI-F workers, led by their respective district chiefs, marched to the Quaid's Mazar and awaited Fazl's arrival. Citizens were inconvenienced throughout the day as traffic was diverted to alternative routes and long queues formed on the roads taken over by JUI-F workers.
Addressing the rally, Fazl said that it was out of question to recognise a country, which stands starkly against Pakistan. "The Pakistan Democratic Movement stands with the people of Palestine and will never recognise Israel," declared Fazl, who is also heading the opposition's alliance currently. He also announced that the PDM would be organising a march on February 5 in solidarity with the people of Kashmir.
The JUI-F chief stated that the resolution of 1940 and the statement of the Quaid, which form the basis for rejecting Israel, are not to be forgotten.
Fazl was seconded by former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who stated that the PDM would not allow the incumbent federal government fool citizens to meet their nefarious goals. The opposition will stand against the capture of Palestinian territory by Israel, he said, adding that the PDM will continue to protest until the people of Kashmir, Jerusalem and the Palestine are liberated. "The PDM will not recognise Israel for any vested interest of the incumbent government."
Addressing the rally, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai also called for the liberation of Jerusalem and Palestine and reiterated that they would not recognise Israel at any cost.
Other JUI-F leaders including Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Anas Noorani also addressed the rally as did Pakistan Peoples Party leader and provincial minister Saeed Ghani.
The protest march also witnessed addresses from the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the leader of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh.
Meanwhile, citizens were inconvenienced as the traffic flow, already disrupted due to the arrival of the South African cricket team, was upended entirely on the day. Main thoroughfares of the city were choked with vehicles lining up bumper-to-bumper as several routes were closed off for commuters for either security reasons or due to the protest march.
Although the traffic police had prepared an alternative traffic plan given the closures announced for the cricket team's arrival, several roads and intersections in Saddar were also blocked due to the JUI-F rally passing through New Preedy Street.
Verbal sparring and altercations broke out amongst commuters who channeled their frustration at other citizens as they waited in long queues. The city's main arteries like Sharae Faisal, University Road, Hassan Square, Jail Chowrangi, Bahadurabad, Dhoraji, Shaheede Millat Road, Rashid Minhas Road, Saddar, Guru Mandir, Regal Chowk, Burns Road and MA Jinnah Road fared the worst.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2021.