Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman Friday addressed the joint opposition’s rally in Islamabad and delivered perhaps the most important speech of his political career.
Speaking about the Kashmir crisis, he said the nation stands with Kashmir. “Should we leave this nation’s future in the hands of this selected government?” he asked.
He said the government promised to construct five million houses. “They have only demolished that many houses, not constructed them,” he said.
He spoke about the Quaid’s mission and vision for Pakistan, explaining how we have strayed from the path set out by him.
Fazl blasted the government, asking what kind of Naya Pakistan is this? “People say we are using the religious card, but if the Constitution allows us to use Islam, I will use it. Who are you to stop me? Pakistan and Islam cannot be separated,” he said.
We are peaceful people, he said.
“If the restrictions on the media are not removed, we won’t be liable to follow any restrictions on us,” he said, adding that the marchers did not want a fight with the institutions, but we want to see them be impartial.
“We are giving you two days to stop backing the government,” he said, asking the institutions to remain impartial.
Addressing Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said we are giving you two days to resign. “After this, we will make our own decision. We will not wait any more.”
Fazl expressed his readiness to have a dialogue with the institutions, but said the government has to go.
He asked the protesters if they were ready to ask for a resignation. “Stay peaceful. If we don’t get a resignation in two days, then we”ll make a decision,” he told the marchers.
Bilawal promises to send ‘puppet, selected’ PM home
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari promised on Friday that they would send the “selected” prime minister home.
He was addressing the joint opposition’s rally in Islamabad. “You have conveyed a clear message to the federation by bringing all political parties together,” he told Fazl at the rally.
“The people of Pakistan want only a parliamentary democracy. They do not recognise this selected and puppet system.”
The PPP chairman questioned what kind of system was it that that could not have transparent elections in the country.
“Army is deployed inside and outside polling stations. The institution responsible only for security, they were made to check polling chits and polling lists,” he said.
“Our great institutions get controversial through such deeds. Our elections get controversial.”
Bilawal mentioned several past elections claiming that army troops were not stationed inside and outside polling stations during those elections. “Why is all this done for Imran Khan in the 2018 general election,” he questioned.
“This army does not belong to any political party; it does not belong to Imran Khan,” the PPP chairman said. “This is my army, your army. This is every Pakistani’s army and we will keep it non-controversial and apolitical.”
He questioned what sort of freedom was it wherein no one including the people, politics and press was free.
Bilawal said it was not just the government, but the media in the country was also “selected”.
“What kind of freedom is it that interviews of a RAW agent, an Indian Air Force pilot and terrorists can be aired, but not that of former president Zardari,” he lamented. “Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s press conferences and Nawaz Sharif’s [press] talks cannot be aired.”
The PPP chairman further said the economy of the country was also being controlled by the International Monetary Fund under PM Imran Khan’s tenure.
“If IMF has to decide who would be our finance minister, State Bank of Pakistan and FBR chiefs, then our economy is also not independent. We don’t accept it,” he said.
Bilawal said the incumbent government burdens the people, because it is not in power because of them. “They came into power because of conspiracies and selectors.”
He told the attendees, “You saw how this economic terrorism murdered the people economically. Tax amnesty was announced for the elite, but no bailout was given to the people.” The PPP chairman said the country’s foreign policy was also impacted because of the presence of an “incompetent and selected PM”.
“You all saw a historic attack being waged on Kashmir under his reign and he asks in the National Assembly ‘what should I do?’,” he said. Bilawal said the entire country, political parties, labourers, students and everyone has just one slogan: “Go selected go”.
“I want to assure you on behalf of the Pakistan Peoples Party that we will stand by you in every democratic step you take,” he said. “Together we will send this puppet, selected PM home.”
‘We must rid ourselves of Imran,’ says Shehbaz
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif attended the rally, flanked by Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal, said thousands have died of dengue across Pakistan but Imran Khan is missing. There are no jobs, no trade, labourers are unemployed, prices are going up and no business, he said. In a year and a half he has made the entire nation scream, he said, adding that Imran Khan should be screaming.
We must rid ourselves of this government and Imran Khan, he urged. Remember Nawaz Sharif’s tenure when inflation was at its lowest, he said, adding that inflation had soared in Imran Khan’s tenure. He said the premier had left people unemployed and accused him of stealing the roof from over people’s heads.
“We will get together and in six months we will make Pakistan’s economy stand on its feet again. If we aren’t able to, then rename me Imran Niazi,” he said.
We want new free and fair elections, said the ANP’s Mian Iftekhar. The elections should be supervised by the ECP, not the army, he said. Imran Khan, you should be ashamed and resign, or else we will get that resignation out of you, he warned.
PPP’s Nayyar Bukhari said they want fair elections where there are no soldiers inside or outside the polling stations.
The marchers reached Islamabad Thursday but postponed their major rally due to a major train accident near Rahim Yar Khan that claimed 74 lives.
As of Friday morning, the marchers were at the H-9 ground.
Speaking to his supporters on Thursday night, he urged them to remain peaceful. If the government sticks to the agreement, so will we, he said. However, he has accused the government of violating the agreement they made.
On Friday, Maulana Ghafoor Haideri announced on stage that female journalists should not be stopped from covering the Azadi March. He said there is no ban on women participating in the rally and that women should be treated with respect at the venue. His announcement comes after two female journalists, Shiffa Yousafzai of Hum News and Annie who did not specify which organisation she is from, said they were stopped from covering the march.
To read about traffic diversions and how to get around Islamabad and Rawalpindi today, click here.