ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) have urged Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to convene a multiparty conference (MPC) of the opposition parties to brief them about his strategy for the Oct 27 anti-government march and to discuss the modalities for other parties to participate in it.
Speaking at a news conference after a meeting between PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan on Sunday, PPP’s Farhatullah Khan Babar and ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain claimed that the opposition parties were united on the "minimum common agenda" of removing the government and holding of fresh free, fair and transparent elections “without any interference of the army".
Mr Babar said there was complete unity among all the opposition parties that the time had come to send this "selected government" packing as it had ruined the country’s economy and made the life of the common man miserable.
"We propose that another MPC of the opposition parties should be convened on the issue of the Oct 27 'Azadi March', for which the JUI-F has already given a call," Mr Babar said, adding if the MPC was not convened then PPP and the ANP would hold meetings of their respective core committees to decide the modalities for participation in the 'Azadi March' and the extent to which they could participate in it.
“The message today we want to give is that the opposition is united and it will remain united and will drive out (prime minister) Imran Khan from the office,” Mr Babar said, adding that “this government is set to go in any case”.
ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain said all opposition parties were in contact and they would take every step with unity. He said Maulana Fazlur Rehman had already given a call for a long march from his party’s platform and now all the opposition parties also wanted to become a part of it.
Mr Hussain said the chances of the Azadi March to become successful would increase if the JUI-F would convene an MPC at this stage.
“We all want to keep the opposition parties united. Therefore, in order to maintain this unity, Maulana Sahab must take all his colleagues into confidence (on the issue of the long march),” he added.
The ANP leader said they wanted to hear from the JUI-F before making any decision regarding the participation in the long march as it would help them decide as to how their leaders or workers could participate in it.
“Though, the announcement for the long march has come from the platform of the JUI-F, we are ready to cooperate with them,” the ANP leader declared, saying that they should not provide any opportunity to the present government to take benefit from the disunity of the opposition parties.
“We will see as to what extent we can go and what help can we provide to the JUI-F to make its long march successful,” Mr Hussain said.
The ANP leader also endorsed the PPP’s call for fresh elections in the country without any interference from the army.
Mr Hussain lashed out at PM Khan for allegedly putting the country’s stability at stake and ruining the country’s economy. He alleged that the prime minister through his speech at the United Nations had made Pakistan a laughing stock in the international community. He accused the government of selling off Kashmir and giving the nation a lollypop in the name of protests.
Responding to a question, Mr Hussain said that it was the government which was playing religion card and not the JUI-F. He said the issue of the use of the religion card had been settled in the previous MPC when the Maulana had told them that they were talking about the protection of the Islamic provisions given in the Constitution.
PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and party’s media coordinator Nazir Dhoki were also present during the news conference. Mr Hussain was assisted by ANP’s secretary information Zahid Khan.
Earlier, Mr Bhutto-Zardari along with his delegation was warmly received by Asfandyar Wali Khan and other members of the ANP at the latter’s Islamabad residence.
Sources said that earlier the meeting was planned to be held in the Charsadda hometown of Mr Khan, but it was shifted to Islamabad due to some security concerns.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had last week announced that his party had decided to hold the anti-government ‘Azadi March’ to Islamabad on Oct 27.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2019