JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addresses a function in Peshawar on Saturday. — White Star
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman addresses a function in Peshawar on Saturday. — White Star

PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Saturday demanded fresh general elections in the country before any extension in the tenure of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and said any extension to the army chief by the current National Assembly won’t be acceptable to him.

Addressing a function at the party’s provincial headquarters here, the JUI-F leader said the current National Assembly had no powers to extend the tenure of the army chief.

“We will not accept if the National Assembly gives extension to Gen Bajwa to continue as the army chief for the next three years,” he said.

Mr Fazl said fresh general elections should be held without the involvement of the army and that only free and transparent polls could steer the country out of the current crisis.

He said the army’s reaction to the conviction of former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf by a special court in a high treason case was unnecessary and that it should not have commented on the verdict.

Says country descending into chaos due to incompetent govt

The JUI-F chief wondered why the army owned a politician and gave a strong statement on the court’s decision.

Referring to the statement of Inter-Services Public Relations director general Major-General Asif Ghafoor over the conviction of the former army chief, he said Musharraf was the chairman of the All Pakistan Muslim League and therefore, the army should not own the head of a political party.

Mr Fazl said the country was descending into a chaos due to the ruling PTI’s incompetence, which had put national institutions on the path of confrontation. He said he avoided commenting on the conviction of Musharraf as he didn’t want to turn the court’s decision into a political controversy.

The JUI-F said the special court had announced death sentence for retired General Musharraf and not a political party.

He said as one prime minister was hanged and two sitting premiers were disqualified, the army stood with the judiciary.

“The army backed judiciary when premiers Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and Nawaz Sharif were disqualified,” he said, adding that the army should not have owned a retired general.

Mr Fazl said the judiciary and army should not be made controversial and insisted that all institutions should work within their constitutional framework.

He warned that the situation was very serious and Pakistan could become battlefield for another great game after Afghanistan.

The JUI-F leader said confrontation among institutions would be harmful for the country.

He said the army chief extension issue had become the laughing stock due to the ‘stupidity’ of the government.

Mr Fazl said the country needed the National Economic Action Plan.

He criticised the provincial government over the extension of the Action in Aid of Civil Power Ordinance, 2019, to the entire province.

“Extension of the ordinance means that KP has been merged with former Fata,” he said demanding a referendum in tribal districts on their merger with the province.

The JUI-F chief expressed reservations about the opening of a secretariat for seminaries and directed the party to hold meetings on the issue at the district level.

He said policies of the ‘selected’ government, especially the boycott of the Kuala Lumpur summit, had humiliated Pakistan.

“Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Malaysia are annoyed. The India-occupied Kashmir was on top of the agenda of the Kuala Lumpur summit but Saudi Arabia forced Pakistan not to participate in it,” he said.

Mr Fazl said the US was against the completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, while the government couldn’t sustain pressure on it.

He said the top PPP and PML-N leaders were arrested on corruption charges for supporting the CPEC project.

The JUI-F chief said India revoked the special status of the held Kashmir after Pakistan withdrew the special status of former Fata and merged it with KP.

He said the US was behind the Fata-KP merger.

“The two developments (Fata-KP merger and Kashmir crisis) should not be taken in isolation,” he said. On the occasion, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Peshawar district, president Sifatullah Khan announced the joining of the JUI-F along with supporters.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2019

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