ISLAMABAD: On the insistence of opposition parties, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) finally decided on Tuesday to end road blockades in different parts of the country in connection with its ongoing anti-government protest.

The decision was announced by JUI-F leader and convener of the opposition’s Rehbar Committee Akram Khan Durrani while briefing reporters on the decisions taken during a meeting at his residence, six days after JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman brought the protest sit-in in Islamabad to an abrupt end and announced blockading important roads and highways as part of its ‘Plan B’.

Mr Durrani said that the roads would no more be blocked, adding that he was issuing directives to the JUI-F workers to open all roads and highways immediately. He said he was making this announcement on behalf of all opposition parties.

He said that as part of the next phase of their protest campaign, all opposition parties had agreed to collectively hold public meetings at district levels throughout the country. Besides, he said, they had also decided to convene a multi-party conference (MPC) soon to finalise their charter of demands.

Mr Durrani said that all nine parties in the opposition’s alliance had submitted their respective demands, but so far they had failed to give them a final shape. He said the charter of demands would now be finalised in the MPC the date of which would be announced by Maulana Fazl after consultation with the leaders and heads of other parties.

Mr Durrani also announced that the opposition parties would press the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the hearing of the foreign funding case against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on a daily basis.

It was the first meeting of the Rehbar Committee since the calling off of the 13-day protest sit-in in Islamabad by the JUI-F chief.

Sources said that during the meeting, representatives of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) expressed their concern over road blockades, saying it was affecting the common people. Moreover, they said, since the PPP was the ruling party in Sindh, it was under tremendous pressure from the public to end the road blockades and take action against those taking the law into their hands.

The PPP and PML-N had also abandoned the JUI-F after addressing the public meeting on Nov 1, when Maulana Fazl announced an indefinite sit-in in Islamabad’s H-9 sector and threatened to march towards the Red Zone area housing key government buildings, including the Prime Minister Office, Parliament House and Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019