'Bring the PM's resignation with you,' Fazlur Rehman tells govt committee due to meet opposition

Updated October 24, 2019

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JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressing a press conference in Sukkur on Thursday. — Video screengrab by author
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addressing a press conference in Sukkur on Thursday. — Video screengrab by author

JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Thursday told the government's negotiation committee — due to hold talks with the opposition tomorrow on its anti-government protest — to "bring the prime minister's resignation letter" with them when they come.

Rehman said that his anti-government protest — dubbed by the party as 'Azadi March' — is on schedule for October 31 and no change is on the cards. "A decision to take it back will only be made, if at all, by the Rehbar Committee," he said, addressing a press conference in Sukkur after a meeting between JUI-F members.

He, however, downplayed the possibility of such an outcome, expressing complete confidence that the march will take place with full participation and endorsement by the nation.

The JUI-F chief reiterated the opposition's plans of showing solidarity with Kashmiris on October 27 — observed across the world by Kashmiris as Black Day. "Special programmes will be held throughout the country and a large gathering will be held in Karachi on the occasion," he said.

"The government has let down Kashmiris. Evil doers themselves are raising a hue and cry over evil," said Rehman.

He said that all sections of society wish to participate in the march and "all parties are in agreement with us over the fact that this government that has come to power through rigging cannot be allowed to continue".

Rehman denied that there was any unwillingness by the Rehbar Committee to meet with their government counterparts. He said that after tomorrow's meeting between the two sides, the opposition parties will hold consultations before responding to the government.

"However, what can be expected from a team headed by Pervez Khattak? His attitude and mannerisms are not conducive to holding talks."

He further criticised the government for offering to hold talks on one hand, while on the other creating hurdles in the way of the opposition. "Shops, petrol pumps, etc., are all being made to shut down. They can do what they like. We will enter Islamabad, come what may."

Rehman urged the opposition to not lose their nerve and to present a strong front against the government. "The entire nation's hopes lie with us and we must support them," he said.

Regarding Nawaz Sharif's health, the JUI-F chief said that "to give someone the hardship of imprisonment when their health is failing them is the sign of a tyrannical leadership".

Govt, opposition to meet on Friday

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, two members of the government negotiation committee, had on Wednesday 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' to kick off in Karachi

A statement issued by the JUI-F information department, quoting party leader Allama Rashid Mehmood Soomro, said that Rehman himself will "lead the Azadi March caravan in Karachi at 10am on October 27".

The caravan will proceed to the Super Highway after smaller demonstrations will depart from the city's six districts and gather at Sohrab Goth, according to the statement.

"The Azadi March will officially begin after an address by Maulana Fazlur Rehman at Sohrab Goth," it added.