ISLAMABAD: Just two weeks after announcing its sup­port for the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) proposed Islamabad lockdown in October, the Pakistan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday decided to ask the JUI-F to defer its ‘power show’ till November so as to allow the main opposition party to mobilise its workers to dislodge the government.

In this situation, however, the Pakistan Peoples Party hinted at finding a middle ground and suggested to the JUI-F to show some flexibility on the protest plan, reiterating the party’s stance on dharna politics.

The PML-N in its central executive committee meeting, which was chaired by party president and leader of opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, discussed the JUI-F’s Azadi March plan and almost reached consensus that it should be deferred till November so that party workers and supporters could be fully mobilised for it, said PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal while speaking at a press conference.

Mr Iqbal said his party would cooperate with any campaign to dislodge the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government. “It was in this spirit that we had agreed to cooperate with Azadi March announced by the JUI-F and formed a committee to consult other parties as well to decide final date for the long march,” he explained.

Terming the PTI government’s economic policies a threat to national security, he said that the present government had no roadmap for economic and agricultural production growth. He also expressed alarm over increase in the prices of fertilisers and pesticides.

Demand for elections, Nawaz’s release

“There is no other way to steer the country out of the blind alley, but to pave the way for free and fair elections in the country,” he said. If the status quo was maintained for another year, it was feared that nobody would be able to stabilise economy, he added.

He said the CEC meeting also noted that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was a political prisoner who had fallen victim to government’s witch-hunt, as clear evidence had emerged about his case while the relevant judge had been suspended and then transferred. Demanding immediate release of the leadership, he said it was a joke that the decision of a judge found to be unfit still held the field.

He said the PML-N would soon launch a campaign for the release of former premier and other party leaders and workers, taking the country towards independent elections by ridding the country of the PTI government.

To speed up the mobilisation work, the PML-N had formed divisional committees, he said, adding that his party would suggest to the JUI-F to immediately convene a multiparty conference of the opposition to make the long march successful.

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari responding to a question about the Azadi March said that there could be a middle ground if the JUI-F showed some flexibility as the PPP had a clear policy on dharna politics and everybody knew about it. However, he said his party would continue to give moral and political support to the opposition protest against the government.

He told reporters after visiting his jailed father Asif Ali Zardari that the PPP had been in contact with the PML-N and all other opposition parties.

In reply to another question, the PPP chairman said his party would never accept any deal with the government. “There is no question of any deal,” he remarked.

Announcing a ‘decisive’ long march in October to oust the government, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had earlier approached the PML-N leadership in Lahore to win the main opposition party’s support for Islamabad lockdown. He believed that people from across the country would come to Islamabad. Only a day ago, the JUI-F chief had announced that the decision about ‘million march’ was irreversible and that his party did not want to strike any deal with the government.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2019