PML-N calls on JUI-F chief to share concerns over anti-govt protest

Published October 2, 2019
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal along with JUI-F Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressing a joint press conference following a meeting between the two parties, in Islamabad, on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal along with JUI-F Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressing a joint press conference following a meeting between the two parties, in Islamabad, on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

A PML-N delegation met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday with a view to present the party's position on his call to march against the government scheduled to take place this month.

PML-N put forward its proposals after a discussion between members of its central executive committee.

The foremost proposal is to postpone the march so as to "better mobilise resources" to participate in the protest, said PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, who addressed a joint press conference with Rehman following the meeting.

The PML-N delegation, which included Iqbal, Shah Mohammad Shah, Ameer Muqam, Abdul Qadir Baloch and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, also apprised the JUI-F chief and his accompanying delegation of the party's meeting with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other PPP members.

The JUI-F chief said that a meeting of the party's central executive committee will take place tomorrow, after which the response to the PML-N's proposals will be shared.

In the post-meeting press conference, Iqbal said that "the entire opposition including PML-N, PPP, and MMA, are all in agreement that the current government has failed in one year".

"It is a worrying fact that eight businessmen are going to the Army chief to tell him that businesses are about to go bankrupt. If the traders are going to the Army chief to air their grievances then where are we going?" remarked Iqbal.

"If the entire burden of the government's failure is placed on the military leadership then how will this country run?"

Iqbal, in further criticism, said that the country cannot run successfully "with frequent reshuffling of the cabinet". "The real problem lies in our unsuccessful and vengeful prime minister".

During the press conference, Iqbal reiterated the party's position on delaying the long march. "If we move forward with a joint strategy, we will see better results," he said.

Iqbal said that the party president, Shehbaz Sharif, will apprise his elder brother former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — incarcerated at Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail for owning assets beyond income — of the party's decisions taken in the central executive committee meetings.

"Nawaz Sharif's decision will be the party's final decision," he said.

Rehman, during the presser, expressed concern over the "vanishing religious identity of Pakistan". He accused the prime minister of "playing a religious card at the UN" to counter the JUI-F anti-government movement.

"On the one hand he defended the hijab, while on the other, a notification to declare hijab mandatory in KP was withdrawn," he said.

"On the one hand, he talks about the Prophet's honour, while on the other, he releases the one who went against it," he continued, referring to the acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a case of alleged blasphemy.

The JUI-F chief went on to stress that religion "is a part of the Constitution which cannot be separated from it".

A day earlier, in a joint press conference held in Islamabad with the PML-N, the PPP announced that it seeks to ensure "there is no unilateral action on a long march to Islamabad".

The relationship between the JUI-F and the PPP had turned sour after leaders from both parties accused each other of playing politics over the issue.

The PPP had expressed unwillingness to participate in the anti-government movement because of the inclusion of the issues of blasphemy laws and Namoos-i-Risalat on its agenda. Moreover, both the PPP and the PML-N had also opposed the idea of holding an indefinite sit-in, as the PTI did in 2014.

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