First post-dharna meeting of Rehbar Committee today

Updated November 19, 2019

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Six days after the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) brought its protest sit-in in Islamabad to an abrupt end and announced launching of blocking important roads and highways as part of its ‘Plan B’, the opposition’s Rehbar Committee will meet here on Tuesday (today) to discuss the prevailing political situation in the country. — DawnNews/File
Six days after the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) brought its protest sit-in in Islamabad to an abrupt end and announced launching of blocking important roads and highways as part of its ‘Plan B’, the opposition’s Rehbar Committee will meet here on Tuesday (today) to discuss the prevailing political situation in the country. — DawnNews/File

ISLAMABAD: Six days after the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) brought its protest sit-in in Islamabad to an abrupt end and announced launching of blocking important roads and highways as part of its ‘Plan B’, the opposition’s Rehbar Committee will meet here on Tuesday (today) to discuss the prevailing political situation in the country.

When contacted, leaders of the two major opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — expressed their ignorance about the specific agenda for the meeting, claiming that the meeting had been convened by the JUI-F itself.

The PPP and PML-N leaders, however, said they expected the JUI-F leadership to apprise them of its talks with PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Husain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi during and after the protest sit-in amid reports in the mainstream and social media about some “possible understanding” between them.

“Since they [JUI-F leaders] have called the meeting, they will definitely tell us what do they want from them [other opposition parties],” said PPP secretary general and former senator Farhatullah Khan Babar.

PML-N, PPP express ignorance about agenda

The PPP leader said that the meeting had been convened by JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani on Tuesday evening — the day when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to fly to London for treatment.

Mr Babar said they would definitely like to know as to what had transpired in the talks between the Chaudhry brothers and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman with particular reference to the recent conflicting statements issued by both sides about a possible understanding between them.

The JUI-F chief had recently asserted that the PML-Q was no more a committed ally of the government as it had been before his Islamabad sit-in and that Mr Elahi had endorsed the JUI-F’s stance when he came as an emissary of the government during the protest.

And a day earlier, PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Husain had stated that “naïve” advisers in the prime minister’s team were not giving Mr Khan the ‘right advice’ by urging the latter to use force for establishing the government’s writ during the JUI-F-led Azadi march.

Earlier, in a TV interview, Mr Elahi had hinted that they had persuaded the JUI-F chief to end the 13-day sit-in in Islamabad after reaching some kind of an understanding. He had also alleged that a former head of a security agency had forced some prominent Q-Leaguers to quit the party and join the Imran Khan-led PTI back in 2010.

On Sunday, however, in what appeared to be a damage control exercise, Mr Elahi through a brief statement declared that his PML-Q was an ally of the PTI government and it would remain so.

Both the PPP and PML-N had distanced themselves from the JUI-F sit-in as well as the party’s move to block the country’s main roads and highways.

Farhatullah Babar said the PPP had already made it clear to the JUI-F in categorical terms that the party would not become part of any indefinite sit-in, civil disobedience or road blockades.

In reply to a question, he said that since the PPP was a ruling party in Sindh, it would also talk about the road blockades in the province by the JUI-F.

Replying to another question, Mr Babar refuted the impression that the Rehbar Committee had ceased to exist after the decision of the major opposition parties to stay away from the JUI-F’s protest sit-in.

He said it had been decided and agreed that all future decisions to put pressure on the government would be made collectively.

He, however, admitted that the JUI-F should have taken the Rehbar Committee onboard when it was holding talks with the Chaudhry brothers of Gujrat.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019