Fazl asks PM to step down by tomorrow

Published November 2, 2019
ISLAMABAD: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif wave to supporters during  the Azadi march rally on Friday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
ISLAMABAD: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif wave to supporters during the Azadi march rally on Friday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

• Says protesters don’t desire any clash with institutions, as they expect them to be impartial

• Shahbaz, Bilawal and leaders of other opposition parties attend ‘Azadi march’

ISLAMABAD: Giving a two-day ultimatum to Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman warned the government on Friday that the ‘million marchers’, who had the capability to enter PM House and arrest him, would decide their next strategy.

“I am warning you to resign within two days or else we will be forced to think of another strategy, as we will not be able to exercise any patience after that point,” the Maulana said while addressing the Azadi march on the Kashmir Highway.

The JUI-F chief made it clear that the protesters did not desire any clash with institutions, as they expected them to be impartial.

He was addressing the marchers who had come to the federal capital in caravans from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, besides different areas of Punjab, before calling a meeting of leaders of nine other opposition parties to discuss the situation.

While the joint opposition’s protest commenced after Friday prayers, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Shahbaz Sharif turned up at the gathering two hours later and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari made his unannounced arrival at around 4pm.

At the same time the organisers and electronic media continued to use drone cameras despite the ban placed on their use by the deputy commissioner of Islamabad.

As the organisers had officially directed all the marchers not to bring along women and children, the participants were all men who vigorously demanded that they should move towards the famous D-Chowk, as the Maulana spoke of sending the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government packing.

The JUI-F chief said the vote of the public had been “stolen” and a puppet government had been installed that had suppressed the masses. “Therefore, it will be for the people to decide the strategy for the protest. It will come down to the people to decide the next move for the Azadi march if the Imran Khan-led government refuses to step down,” he declared.

The Maulana said: “We do not desire a clash with the institutions” and expected them to be “impartial”. “[But] if we feel that the institutions are protecting these illegitimate rulers, then after these two days time we should not be stopped from forming an opinion regarding the institutions.”

He accused the PTI government of conspiring to recognise Israel and said it could not stop him from demanding the implementation of Islamic provisions in the Constitution.

The JUI-F chief said the country’s economic managers had been appointed by the IMF and it was the responsibility of the opposition to stop them from suppressing the masses.

After the speeches were finished, Maulana Fazlur Rehman called the meeting of party heads of nine opposition parties Friday night.

Earlier, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif in his fiery speech said this gathering would bury the ‘politics of containers’ that had been initiated by nobody else but PTI chief Imran Khan.

Criticising the incumbent government over its various ‘failures’ mainly on the economic front, the leader of the opposition claimed that he could turnaround the economic situation within the next six months. “If I fail in six months – change my name,” he said before quickly suggesting to the crowd to call him Imran Khan Niazi in case he failed to keep his promise.

Mr Sharif said an internal change was the constitutional right of the parliament. It was essential, “because Imran Khan Niazi was dropping the country so low that recovery will become impossible otherwise”.

Calling Mr Khan ‘puppet’ and ‘selected’ prime minister, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the prime minister was incapable of running the affairs of the country.

He said the premier by just tweeting about the Indian move to annex India-held Jammu and Kashmir was not doing any good to the people of the held Valley.

“The most unfortunate part of the system is that we have failed to have free and fair elections in 70 years.”

In their speeches, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Awami National Party leader Mian Iftikhar, National Party’s Dr Abdul Maalik and Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) Owais Noorani criticized the PTI government and said there was ‘civil dictatorship’ in the country.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019

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