October 22, 2019
Local leaders of various opposition parties convened in Islamabad on Tuesday for an All Parties Conference in which it was unanimously decided that no sit-in will be staged by the opposition on October 27.
“As in other parts of the country, October 27 will be observed as Kashmir Solidarity and Black Day,” said JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi.
The opposition will hold a large demonstration outside the National Press Club, said Hazarvi.
A majority of opposition parties, including the PML-N and PPP have decided to answer JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s call to band together and march against the government on October 31.
Outlining the party’s October 31 plans, the JUI-F leader said that participants of the ‘Azadi March’ will be welcomed into Islamabad that day and the city will witness a show of force by the opposition.
He reiterated the party’s demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and called for fresh elections to be held in the country.
PML-N leader Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, too, sought to clarify that no sit-in will be staged on October 27. “A peaceful march to express solidarity with the oppressed Kashmiris will be held,” he said.
“Islamabad is our city and we are more aware than the administration of the difficulties its residents have to face,” said Chaudhry.
He warned the Islamabad administration to refrain from “ruining the atmosphere with arrests of participants”.
PPP leader Sibt-i-Hasan Bukhari voiced similar sentiments regarding the nature of activities due to be held on October 27. “Our protest will be peaceful,” he said.
The APC participants also expressed their concern over the health of incarcerated party leaders such as Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Asif Ali Zardari.
“We demand the selected government grant visitation rights to Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif,” said Bukhari.
When asked about whether or not the PPP will participate in a sit-in on October 31, Bukhari said the decision will be made by the Rahbar Committee — a group of opposition leaders that has been holding joint consultations on the anti-government march.
A session of the committee was held a day earlier at the residence of JUI-F leader Akram Durrani, in which the opposition parties had expressed their resolve to hold a “peaceful march” on October 27 and for which they had declared there would be “no compromise”.
The opposition had said that talks with the government would be contingent on permission being given to hold the march on October 27.
The opposition had previously refused to come to the table for talks with the government and had voiced a singular demand: the resignation of the prime minister. It had said that no talks can take place before the premier steps down.
Meanwhile, JUI-F’s Abdul Ghafoor Haider, in a conversation on talk show “News Wise”, said that the demand by the Rahbar Committee to allow the “peaceful march” on October 27, had come “in the face of arrests of various party members in Islamabad and other cities”.
“In such an environment where the prime minister is ridiculing Maulana Fazlur Rehman sahib and the way (Defence Minister) Pervez Khattak spoke, the offer to hold talks holds no meaning.”
He said that that was why the committee had also demanded that the government “put a stop to such arrests” and to the placement of containers which has already begun.
The JUI-F leader said that the government has not reached out to the party and the Rahbar Committee had also not spoken about being contacted as yet.
Haider said the government’s nervousness regarding the march was obvious in their decision to “dig trenches” in the 250 link roads that are connected to Islamabad.
“They aim to dig trenches as if we are coming from an enemy state. This is a very foolish move.
“They used to ask us whether we plan on a lockdown in Islamabad. They themselves are imposing a lockdown on it.”