Government to allow JUI-F's 'Azadi March' to go ahead as long as it remains peaceful

Published October 23, 2019
The news broke amidst reports that the the Islamabad police was issuing riot gear and mobilising containers to cordon off sensitive areas of the capital city. Photo: File
The news broke amidst reports that the the Islamabad police was issuing riot gear and mobilising containers to cordon off sensitive areas of the capital city. Photo: File

The government on Wednesday decided to let the opposition's 'Azadi March' protest in Islamabad proceed as long as parameters laid out by courts for lawful protest are not breached.

The decision was made after a team delegated to negotiate with the opposition presented its recommendations to the prime minister.

It was decided during the meeting that "the Government, with its firm belief in upholding democratic ideals, would allow the proposed Azadi March, if it takes place within the ambit of law and the Constitution as interpreted in the decisions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Islamabad High Court," a brief statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.

"The prime minister believes in the democratic right to protest," a spokesperson for Prime Minister House had earlier told DawnNewsTV.

The protesters will be allowed to carry out the march as long as the everyday life of citizens is not adversely affected, in accordance with the past judgements of the Supreme Court and the high court.

The news broke amidst reports that the Islamabad police was issuing riot gear and mobilising containers to cordon off sensitive areas of the capital city to prevent protesters from marching on to the Red Zone.

Govt, opposition to meet on Friday

Later on Wednesday, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, two members of the government negotiation committee, reached out to Akram Khan Durrani and Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F, respectively, regarding their protest march.

Following the telephonic contact by the government representatives, Durrani called a meeting of the opposition's Rehbar Committee on Friday, according to a JUI-F spokesperson. It will be held at 4pm at Durrani's Islamabad residence.

Following the meeting, the government negotiation committee headed by Khattak will meet the Rehbar Committee at 5pm to discuss the Azadi March.

'Azadi' March

JUI-F chief Rehman had announced in June that his party had decided to hold an anti-government long march to Islamabad in the month of October in a bid to topple the government, which he sad had come to power through "fake" elections.

The Maulana had first set October 27 as the date for the long march, but later deferred it till October 31, saying they would instead organise rallies on October 27 to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, who would be observing a black day all over the world against Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir on that day.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday had constituted a seven-member team under Defence Minister Pervez Khattak to engage the JUI-F and other opposition parties ahead of their planned march. The JUI-F chief on Satur­day had given a go-ahead to his party’s secretary general and Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri to meet the Senate chairman, who, as a member of the government negotiating team, had contacted him over telephone and sought a meeting.

On Sunday, after the PPP objected to the negotiations, Rehman had stopped his party's delegation from meeting Sanjrani, saying a decision on talks with the government would now be made by the opposition’s collective Rehbar Committee.

On Monday, after a meeting of the Rehbar Committee, JUI-F leader Akram Durrani told the media that the option of negotiations with the government is subject to the party being permitted to take out a peaceful 'Azadi March' on October 27.

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