Govt decides free hand for 'Azadi Marchers'

By Staff Reporter

KARACHI: The government has decided against creating any hindrance in Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) ‘Azadi March’ in Islamabad on October 27.
The decision came after the party submitted a written assurance to the local administration, insisting their protest at D-Chowk will be peaceful, sources close to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) confirmed on Saturday.
However, they have clarified that the government will adhere to this policy only if the JUI-F ensures the protest will only be at one location and will not enter the red zone.
The sources added the government can amend its strategy as the situation develops during the protest.
Fazl had said JUI-F caravans from across the country will converge on the federal capital on October 27 to rid the country of the “incompetent government” which, according to him, had “destroyed the economy”.
“The federal government will use all the legal options including arrests, filing of cases and dispersal of participants of the protest if they disrupted the law and order situation,” sources said.
“The ruling party can also look into the option of talks with the JUI-F and other opposition parties.”
The sources elaborated that the government will not compromise on its policy of accountability and will not tolerate any blackmailing on the matter.
“PTI will not accept JUI-F’s demand which insists on the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” the same sources maintained.
The two main opposition parties – the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – tried earlier this week to talk the politico-religious leader out of ‘going solo’ with the anti-government rally, but to no avail.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had already said Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s anti-government ‘Azadi March’ was aimed at salvaging his sinking political career, which was in jeopardy because of madrassa reforms.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, meanwhile, had urged the JUI-F to reconsider its decision of marching on Islamabad on October 27.
Islamabad’s D-Chowk is the same spot which the PTI used in 2014 to stage a sit-in protest against alleged rigging in the 2013 elections. The sit-in was called off in the wake of the Taliban attack at Army Public School in Peshawar.