Fazl rules out change in march plan

Updated October 26, 2019

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Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addresses a press conference on Friday.—PPI
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addresses a press conference on Friday.—PPI

LARKANA: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), has ruled out any change in the schedule of ‘Azadi March’ “come what may”.

Talking to journalists at Gulshan-i-Shaheed Jamia Islamia on Friday, he said the houses of his party’s central committee members and those of provincial leaders were being raided throughout the country.

The Maulana said he was not hopeful about the success of talks being held with the government.

“If barricades and other obstacles are placed, it will trigger clashes. But come what may, the march will take place. No matter if highways remain closed for one month, we will move to Islamabad,” the JUI-F chief expressed his resolve.

He accused the government of harassing transporters, small shopkeepers and petrol pump owners.

About the ban on Ansar-ul-Islam Organisation, Maulana Fazl said it was an old volunteer organisation and part of the JUI-F since long. “I reject this notification and announce defying the ban.”

On one hand, the government talked about “threats to my life” and, on the other, it had banned Ansar-ul-Islam, he regretted.

Maulana Fazl said other political and religious parties had their volunteer wings like Ahrar-ul-Islam, Khaksar Tehreek and even the Quaid-i-Azam had Muslim Guards.

He called upon the government to “look after the armed organisations under your wings”, referring to a video which purportedly showed that Peshawar’s deputy commissioner had granted permission for such a body.

In reply to a question, the JUI-F chief did not rule out the possibility of a meeting with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, whom he phoned during his stay in Sindh.

Read: Opposition has reasons to be wary of partnering with Fazl but unlike PPP, PML-N has nothing to lose

“As a gesture of goodwill I had called Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to thank him for his support to Azadi March. I have not received any call from Bilawal Bhutto Zardari so far,” he added.

In reply to a question about the Kashmir situation, the Maulana said on one hand, the government was talking about tensions on the Line of Control and, on the other, it had decided to open the Kartarpur Corridor. “This two-faced policy saddens me. Why does the government not open the Tharparkar border,” he wondered.

With Maulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro, the secretary general of JUI-F’s Sindh chapter, at his side, Maulana Fazl referred to a recently released report of the World Economic Forum which had found a three per cent increase in corruption since the PTI came to power last year.

“The economy had nosedived, prices of essential commodities are touching new heights and people are living in abject poverty. So it is necessary to send him [Prime Minister Imran Khan] packing.”

Asked how a man outside parliament [Maulana Fazl] could call for the resignation of an elected prime minister, the JUI-F chief commented: “Both parliament and the prime minister are fake. They have no mandate.”

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2019