KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) finds itself in a strange situation as the party which has all along been a vocal supporter of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s Azadi March in Islamabad, has denied the right-wing party permission to take its protest to Sindh and block highways in the province.
When the JUI-F launched its ‘Azadi March’ on Oct 27 from Karachi amid curbs on the protest in other three provinces, the PPP government overtly supported it and “offered” the opposition party and its chief Maulana Fazl all “possible assistance” throughout its journey in Sindh.
But the romance between the two parties was put to the test when the JUI-F announced ending of the 13-day Azadi March sit-in and unveiled its ‘Plan B’ under which the workers had to close all main highways across the country, including those passing through Sindh.
“Details of the decision made by opposition parties have not yet been shared,” Saeed Ghani, Sindh Minister for Information, told Dawn when asked about his government’s strategy for handling road blockades by the JUI-F workers and the PPP policy of support for the anti-government campaign.
“So we’d better wait for details about their decisions. But definitely it’s very clear from day one that we have supported all the protest activities which don’t disturb a common man’s life. We appreciate that the sit-in or Azadi March remained peaceful throughout the two weeks,” he said.
Under other steps to be taken under ‘Plan-B’, senior JUI-F leader in Sindh Qari Mohammad Usman said the party workers had already started gathering at Hub River Road in Karachi to block it and cut off the business capital’s link with Balochistan.
Similarly, he said, the workers had planned to stage sit-ins in Larkana and Jacobabad districts to seal off the road connecting Sindh with Balochistan. “We believe whatever the party leadership has decided has been done with consensus of the Rehbar Committee,” he said.
“We appreciate the way the PPP supported the call for Azadi March in Karachi and other parts of Sindh and look forward to their cooperation in the ‘Plan B’ as well. We are peaceful and not challenging anyone, neither affecting common man’s life,” he said.
The JUI-F workers, he said, would also cut off routes between Sindh and Punjab by staging protests in Sukkur, Panno Aqil, Shikarpur and Ghotki and block Sukkur-Multan highway.
However, the unfolding situation on the ground and the provincial government’s posture do not appear to be too supportive of the JUI-F and its workers.
“It can never be allowed,” said Mr Ghani while responding to a query about the JUI-F’s plan of blockades of roads and highways.
SUKKUR: JUI-F workers staged sit-ins at different places along the National Highway and blocked it completely from Kashmore to Sukkur and also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway M-5.
The sit-ins led to gridlock and drivers had to use link roads to carry on their journey.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019