Fazl-Shahbaz meet fails to coax PML-N into joining march

Updated September 23, 2019

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Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called on PML-N president and Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday and discussed modalities for the proposed long march against the government. — Photo by Javed Hussain/File
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called on PML-N president and Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday and discussed modalities for the proposed long march against the government. — Photo by Javed Hussain/File

LAHORE: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called on PML-N president and Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday and discussed modalities for the proposed long march against the government.

Both the leaders, along with their aides, also discussed political and economic situation of the country in the meeting which lasted more than an hour.

Maulana Fazl was accompanied by Maulana Amjad Khan while Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq assisted the PML-N president. The two sides avoided the media after the sitting.

A JUI-F insider, however, told Dawn that the PML-N leaders didn’t give their word about joining the proposed long march and sought time, saying a decision on the issue would be taken in a meeting of the party’s central working committee (CWC) within the next few days.

He said they were told that the CWC opinion would then go to incarcerated PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif for approval.

Religious cause is part of agenda set for event, says JUI-F chief

He said the two sides agreed on convening a multiparty conference next month to bring other opposition parties on board regarding the long march and for devising a joint strategy for the anti-government protest movement.

However, a senior leader of the PML-N said the visitors (the JUI-F delegation) showed their interest in attending the PML-N CWC meeting to brief its members on the protest plan and other opposition parties’ views on the political scene, but their request was politely declined “because we want to take our own decision without any outside influence”.

He claimed that Shahbaz Sharif would be holding a meeting of his confidants in the party on Monday (today) before summoning the CWC session.

‘Religious cause’

Earlier in the day, Maulana Fazl said while speaking to the media that a date for the “Azadi March” would be decided in a couple of days.

Dispelling the impression that the JUI-F was unable to organise the long march, he claimed that they had arranged 15 million-marches successfully and had the ability to organise another long march.

He said they had no plans to confront any state institution and, like in the past, their long march would be peaceful.

The JUI-F chief responding to a query said that religious cause and defending Islamic provisions of the Constitution was part and parcel of the agenda set for the march.

He accused the government of “selling” Kashmir and said that “the incumbent government was “illegal and incapable”. Overthrowing this government would be in country’s interest, he added.

Maulana Fazl said a joint strategy on the march would be announced after consulting the opposition parties.

Responding to a query, he said they would not offer NRO (deal) to the government which, he said, had gifted unemployment and poor law and order to the masses.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019