PESHAWAR: Information minister Shaukat Yousafzai on Friday said the government had opted not to act against the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s baton-wielding workers to prevent further political unrest in the country.

“There is a consensus of opinion that nothing should be done that gives the main impetus to their [opposition] protest. The government does not want to do anything, which will increase chaos in the country,” he told a news conference here.

The minister said the government had constituted a committee headed by defence minister Pervez Khattak to hold talks with the JUI-F and other opposition parties to prevent the Oct 31 march on Islamabad.

Mr Yousafzai said the Khattak committee was in contact with the opposition parties and it had got ‘positive signals from all sides except the JUI-F’.

He said he was unable to comprehend the JUI-F chief’s political moves and that he was hell bent on sending the entire democratic system packing.

The minister said though the PTI government was not opposed to any protest, no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands.

Accusing Mr Fazl of playing the ‘others’ game’, he said the JUI-F should stop dreaming about the ouster of the PTI government.

“We came to power for five years and still have four years to stay put,” he said.

The minister said the JUI-F chief had grown disillusioned after his election defeat, so he was trying to create political chaos through street protests with the support of those languishing in jail for corruption.

He criticised the JUI-F for staging a protest outside the KP House, Swat, and said some hooligans tried to make a hue and cry in front of the chief minister’s residence.

Mr Yousafzai said the ruling PTI had more workers than the JUI-F and if the latter used own activists for violence, then Mr Fazl won’t be able to come out of his house.

He, however, said the PTI won’t stoop so low. The minister asked the JUI-F not to stoke chaos and said there was not any ban on restriction on any kind of political activity.

He, however, said the government won’t allow vandalism and closure of roads by mobs and the law would take its course in that case.

“The government will ensure the protection of life and property of every Pakistani and will make no compromise on law and order,” he said.

Mr Yousafzai said the JUI-F chief couldn’t bring 15,000 people on the streets.

He said currently, the government was trying to contact the JUIF so that the situation remains normal and country’s march towards progress prosperity is not hindered.

The minister said Pakistan was neither banana republic nor Afghanistan, where Mualana could play his games.

He said Pakistan was in a takeoff position and rupee was stable while exports were on the rise.

Mr Yousafzai said the JUI-F chief had always engaged in politics of money and there should be accountability of donations they had been collecting.

He said the JUI-F chief had held the office of the National Assembly Kashmir Committee’s chairman for more than a decade but failed to do anything for Kashmir cause.

The minister said the JUI-F won’t attend the Oct 27 protests to be staged in favour of Kashmiris.

He said the Pakistan Peoples Party was set to lose its stronghold Larkana to political rivals, so its co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should pay attention to the affairs of own party and the province.

The minister said the PPP had ruled Sindh three consecutive terms but even then, it didn’t deliver the goods.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019