JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman made it clear that the opposition is sticking to its demands and the Azadi March is not backing down in a charged speech as the march entered its seventh day on Saturday.
Thousands of people marched alongside the JUI-F chief as part of his movement to topple the PTI government. The journey started from Karachi and ended in Islamabad, with many people joining in from different cities.
“Today’s Pakistan is not the Pakistan envisioned by Allama Iqbal or Jinnah,” he said, adding that they want to follow their vision.
Criticising the government’s foreign policy, he said that we have lost the support of the countries that stood with us in the past.
Addressing Prime Minister Imran Khan directly, he said, “You say you are the prime minister, but if you were the prime minister you would have had spoken like one,” he said.
“The government says its doors are open for negotiations, but you have sealed all the roads leading to parliament and PM house. How will we have a dialogue then?” he questioned.
“You are an unconstitutional and illegal government,” the JUI-F leader told the government, calling again for the resignation of PM Khan. “Resign and give people back their right to elect their leaders”.
Today, the fake government made a committee to discuss the Azadi March, Fazl said.
Speaking about the controversy behind the Afghan Taliban flags which many protesters were seen holding today, Fazl commented that it seemed as if the government was trying to create a controversy itself.
Earlier in the day, a government committee had contacted opposition parties to discuss the future plan for the JUI-F’s Azadi March.
Government’s attitude is not appropriate: Akram Duarrani
JUI-F’s Akram Durrani says the opposition is read to talk, but the government’s attitude is not appropriate.
He was addressing a press conference after a meeting of the Rahbar Committee at his house on Saturday. Durrani, who is also heading the joint opposition’s Rahbar Committee, said that all parties agreed that the Azadi March mission should be taken forward.
It has been decided that the demands put forward by the Azadi March, including the prime minister’s resignation and fresh elections, will remain the same, Durrani said, adding that the Rahbar Committee will not back down.
“We are political people. We have suffered all our lives. We are open to dialogue, but the government’s attitude and way of talking needs to be fixed first,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Defence Minister Pervez Khattak’s recent statements over the Azadi March.
“If we are asking for a resignation and we are being told in response not to talk about a resignation, then what is the point of having a dialogue?” he asked, reiterating that they were “democratic people” and ready to talk.
“These are not my words,” Durrani said, referring to the agreements made in the meeting which he was initially reading off a paper. He said his words were the thoughts of the leaders of nine political parties, who attended the meeting.
He said if any party or person takes undue advantage of the current scenario, it will be condemned. “Any irresponsible action by non-democratic forces will be against national interest. All opposition parties are unanimous on this point and oppose it,” he said.
In response to a question, Durrani emphasised that the Azadi March is getting stronger every day. “More caravans are on their way [to the march],” he said.
He also announced that the Rehbar Committee will continue to function.
Durrani made it clear that all options, including resignations from assemblies, shutter-down strikes and blocking highways are under consideration.
The opposition will decide its next move till Sunday evening, he said.
PM Khan is not resigning: Pervez Khattak
Prime Minister Imran Khan is not going to tender his resignation, said Defence Minister Pervez Khattak while addressing a press conference on Thursday. “We had signed an agreement with the JUI-F,” he said, adding that party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has given speeches that were highly condemnable.
“On one hand, they agreed to our terms and then gave speeches criticising the government and state institutions,” he remarked. “You saw ISPR’s message saying that they are standing with democratic institutions.” You are criticising the institutions that have always saved us when we needed them. Institutions are for everyone and they support everyone, Khattak added. It just shows that they haven’t agreed to what they signed on the contract. “We haven’t changed our stance but they did.”
The core committee even announced that they will take legal action against Fazl for his remarks against the premier.
We have many options: Ghafoor Haideri
Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, while addressing the participants on Thursday, said that the party has many options. “We can all resigned from our posts or we can locked down the country.” He said that the party leaders are going to decide what to do next.
The JUI-F leader remarked that Fazl’s speech was just criticised by the spokesperson of one state institution. “If you are an impartial institution, then why are you even giving such statements?”
ANP leader Mian Ifthikhar, meanwhile, has said that he was contacted by the speaker of the National Assembly. He asked to meet me and I told him that the opposition parties will devise their strategy for the future during a meeting today.
The speaker said that we should make sure that there isn’t any violence during the protest. “We assured them that we want our protest to be peaceful.”
The timing of the protest is just not right: JI
JI leader Liaquat Baloch has said that the party did not participate in the march because it doesn’t believe that the timing of it is correct.
“This action is not good for the country’s peace because of its timings,” he remarked in an interview to SAMAA TV. “We should focus all our energies on solving the Kashmir issue.”
He claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan has no control over what he says, Baloch said, adding that the premier’s actions are doing nothing but adding more fuel to the fire.
You need an agenda, not danda: PTI’s Muhammad Aslam Iqbal
Punjab Information and Culture Minister Muhammad Aslam Iqbal said that the opposition should know that to engage in politics they need an agenda and not danda (stick). Iqbal, while addressing a press conference, was referring to the sticks being carried by JUI-F marchers.
He claimed that strict action will be taken against the protesters if they fail to follow their agreement with the government.
During the march, some protesters were seen holding the flag of the Afghan Taliban. Many people, including government officials, criticised this.
Usman Dar, who is the special assistant to PM on youth affairs, said on Twitter that Pakistan is on the verge of being blacklisted by the FATF. The marchers holding the Afghan Taliban’s flag shows that the JUI-F has been supporting them, he said. This even raises questions about the PPP and PML-N’s support for the march, he added.
Following the controversy, the march organisers made an announcement in which people have been barred from carrying any flags other than those of the opposition parties. The organisers said that the march is a joint venture of the opposition parties and they will not allow the participants to carry any other flags. If someone is found to be violating this, then his flag will be confiscated, they added.
Fazl calls for support
Fazl released a video Saturday morning in which he asked for more supporters to join him.
“I thank everyone for supporting,” he said. “You have made the country proud by raising your voice for what’s right.”
The people who couldn’t join us before, there is still time, Fazl remarked. “You can come now. We will welcome anyone who joins us,” he added.
Day 6 highlights
Rehman urged on Friday the state institutions to stop backing the incumbent government. Addressing participants of the joint opposition’s rally in Islamabad, Fazl said the marchers did not want a confrontation with the institutions, but they wanted them to be impartial. “We are giving you two days to stop backing the government,” he said, asking the institutions to remain impartial.
The JUI-F chief also gave Prime Minister Khan two days to tender his resignation. “After this, we will make our own decision. We will not wait for any more.” He expressed his readiness to have a dialogue with the institutions but said the government had to go.