ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and head of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), has directed his party workers to start preparations for a “big” anti-government “protest demonstration” to be held in Islamabad soon, inviting other parties to join it.
The JUI-F chief, who was authorised by the country’s major opposition parties on May 19 to convene a multi-party conference (MPC) after Eid to devise a joint strategy for launching a “decisive movement” for restoration of “real democracy” in the country, issued these directives through a video message on Wednesday.
In his nearly five-minute message, the Maulana said their already planned “million marches” in Quetta and Peshawar would be held after Eidul Fitr as per the schedule.
The JUI-F chief, whose party had initially decided to boycott the parliament after the last year’s general elections, has been pressing the other opposition parties to launch a decisive movement to dislodge the government, but he has so far failed to get a positive response from them, mainly from the PPP and the PML-N.
In his video message, the Maulana also made a mention of the Iftar-dinner hosted by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in which the leaders of 11 political parties had nominated him as the convener for an MPC of the opposition parties.
During the Iftar dinner, the leaders of 11 parties had announced that they would go ahead with their individual plans of anti-government protests, but at the same time they would try to devise a joint strategy on their future course of action.
The JUI-F chief said the political parties had once again reposed confidence in his party and it would host an MPC soon after Eid. He expressed the hope that in the MPC, the opposition parties would succeed in devising a “joint strategy” under which they would swing into action against the government.
“All these things will go side by side and with the cooperation of all the parties. However, I want to give a clear message to the people of Pakistan and the workers of the JUI-F and the MMA that their million marches will continue as per the plan,” the Maulana said.
“There will be a big demonstration at the national level in Islamabad which will be participated by the people from all over the country. The workers should remain determined and continue preparations for it,” he said, adding that other parties would also be welcomed to join it.
The JUI-F chief said that after the last general elections, the opposition parties had asked him to convene an MPC after announcing the formation of an alliance named the Free and Fair Elections Alliance, but “hurdles” were created and the MPC could not be held.
The Maulana said the alliance had been formed by the opposition parties to devise a joint strategy on the issue of “rigged” and controversial general elections held on July 25 last year. He said soon after the general elections, almost all the parties had come out with a united stance that the elections were “massively rigged” and the people’s mandate had been “stolen.” He claimed that the parties had agreed that they would make a demand for fresh elections.
Bilawal addresses PPP office-bearers
Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, addressing PPP office-bearers from Islamabad at Zardari House, said, “This incompetent government has destroyed the economy of the country and according to reports there has been an increase of Rs1,000 billion in foreign debt just in the last four days.”
The PPP chairman said houses of poor people were being demolished in the name of anti-encroachment drive which was “inhuman”.
“Poor people of this country are crying due to this inept government which had promised them sun, moon and what not. How can the PPP leaders and workers remain silent over this situation?” he said.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari vowed that the PPP would not be cowed down by “blatant use of force or a vilification campaign” against the party leadership.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2019