Maulana leads March to Islamabad amidst speculations

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BUREAU REPORT

KARACHI: The anti-government march led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday kicked off its journey from Karachi towards Islamabad, where it will stage a sit-in to protest the alleged rigging in last year general elections that saw the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rise to power.
The protest, dubbed as Azadi March, has been joined by the major opposition parties, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), seminaries students and others.
Besides JUI-F leadership, PPP leaders Raza Rabbani, Saeed Ghani, PML-N leaders Mohammad Zubair, Nihal Hashmi, Awami National Party (ANP) leader Shahi Syed and others, are on board the leading container. The next stopover of the march will be Jamshoro. The march is scheduled to reach Islamabad via Sukkur and various districts of Punjab.
Fazl was initially to march on Islamabad on Oct 27, but the protest date was
later changed to Oct 31 owing to the Kashmir black day. Addressing the participants of the march, Fazl said, “We had promised to our Kashmiri brethren that we will observe a day to express solidarity with them.”
“The entire nation is on the same page on the issue of Kashmir,” he said, adding that there has been a curfew in Kashmir for the past three months. He demanded the international community take notice of human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.
Addressing the participants, he stuck to the demand of PM Imran Khan’s resignation, saying: “Hundreds of thousands have gathered in Karachi; what will the government do when people from across the country reach Islamabad?” Imran will have to go home, he asserted. He also commented on the dialogue held between a government-led delegation on Saturday, saying the opposition had denied all demands of the negotiation team sent by the government and will hold their sit-in as per the decisions made by the judiciary. He also took the powers that be to the task for cancellation of the national identity card of JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah, saying they installed a green card holder as the caretaker prime minister in 1993.
“But, now they question our citizenship and declare us Pashtun and Afghans,” he added. He said the opposition parties oppose such “flawed laws” as it believes in “democracy and the constitution and wants the sovereignty of the country”.
“I will announce the future course of action in Islamabad,” he said, referring to the sit-in on Oct 31 in the federal capital. “We support positive politics. We have spent our entire life in loyalty to the country’s Constitution and we have faced extremism (in return),” he said, adding that the government will have to answer for the tactics it has been employing against the opposition.