KARACHI/HYDERABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Sunday began its much-trumpeted Azadi march — an anti-government movement calling for resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan — from Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area where a massive show of power was ensured by all opposition parties supporting the march, including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Awami National Party (ANP).
The marchers, who are scheduled to enter Islamabad on Oct 31, reached Sukkur at the end of the first day of their journey. During the journey they passed through many towns and cities of Sindh, including Hyderabad, Sakrand, Nawabshah and Sanghar. However, there was a sudden change in the itinerary of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who led the marchers from Karachi to Hyderabad, and instead of moving towards Sukkur with the marchers, he went to Larkana.
According to sources, the JUI-F chief will join the marchers again in Sukkur on Monday morning.
Fazl to announce ‘important decision’ after reaching capital
Before the marchers began their journey from Karachi, leaders of the opposition parties supporting the anti-government march addressed them from a stage set up on a container.
They all called for resignation of PM Khan and holding of fresh elections in the country.
Maulana Fazl in his speech criticised the policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government and said that he would not budge from his demand for the prime minister’s resignation. He said he would announce an important decision after the Azadi march reached Islamabad.
He said his party did not accept the PTI government as legitimate, adding that it was a product of a rigged election.
He said the ‘Azadi march’ would remain within the parameters of the laws of the land.
The Maulana condemned the decision of cancelling the citizenship of JUI-F’s leader Hafiz Hamdullah, saying that the government ought to shame for taking such a childish decision. “If a person is Pakhtun you declare him an Afghani.” He asked the government what was the citizenship of Shaukat Aziz who was made prime minister of the country.
He criticised the government for the arrest of another JUI-F leader, Mufti Kifayatullah, saying that such actions were being taken to provoke JUI-F workers.
The JUI-F chief also criticised the Indian government for its forces’ atrocities against the people of held Kashmir. He urged international organisations to take notice of human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.
Concluding his 18-minute speech, the Maulana said: “We have started the ‘Azadi march’ from Babul Islam and we would wage the flag of Islam Insha Allah in Islamabad.”
Mian Raza Rabbani of the PPP said that the “selected government” had mortgaged Pakistan to the world capitalist and the country was being run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said his head had bowed down in shame after hearing remarks of the country’s finance minister that he would present the demands of Pakistani traders before the IMF team. He said Pakistan was not a banana republic.
Former governor of Sindh and PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair said that PM Khan neither had an ideology, nor plans to lead the country. He said his party demanded resignation of the prime minister and holding of fresh elections in the country.
Shahi Syed of the ANP said that getting rid of the “Napak government” was necessary for saving the country. “This is not a democratic government, but a selected government,” he added.
Maulana Owais Noorani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan said that the purpose of ‘Azadi march’ was to protect the country from foreign influences.
The speakers also prayed for the recovery of health of PML-N supreme leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Earlier, political workers — mostly belonging to the JUI-F — started arriving at the venue from where the ‘Azadi march’ began early from different parts of the city in the morning. Carrying their party flags, they were chanting slogans against the government.
The secretary general of the JUI-F’ Sindh chapter, Rashid Mehmood Soomro, was in-charge of the event.
A large number of police personnel were deployed for security of the event.
The marchers left Karachi at 2.30pm.
They were joined by more political workers at every towns and cities from where the march passed through.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2019