October 05, 2019
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman on Saturday likened his upcoming ‘Azadi’ March to a “war”, which he said would “only end when the government falls”.
“The entire country will be our war zone,” he told reporters at a press conference in Peshawar.
The JUI-F leader has announced to set out on a long march against the government on October 27 that will culminate in the capital, where the party plans to hold a sit-in.
“Our strategy will not remain stagnant. We will keep changing it to cope with [any] situation,” he added. He insisted that a “flood of people from all over the country” was coming to join the march and the “fake rulers will drown in it like a straw”.
When asked about whether he has been able to garner the support of other opposition parties, he said that he “wanted to see them” in the march. He added that since all opposition parties agreed that last year’s general elections were “fake” and that a reelection should be held, they should all be “on the same page and same stage”.
Both PPP and PML-N — the two major opposition parties — have been non-committal on the issue of participation in the march. The PML-N had urged Rehman to delay the march, while PPP Chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had yesterday said that he would hold a party meeting to decide “the extent to which they can help” Rehman.
The PPP had expressed unwillingness to participate in the anti-government movement because of the inclusion of the issues of blasphemy laws and Namoos-i-Risalat on its agenda. Moreover, both the PPP and the PML-N had also opposed the idea of holding an indefinite sit-in, as the PTI did in 2014.
Rehman, in his press talk today, said that while he was not afraid of being arrested, such a move would fan the protesters anger against the government.
In response to a question about government’s claim that the JUI-F chief was “using” children studying in seminaries against the government, Rehman alleged that the rulers were trying to deny the students their democratic right.
Moreover, he claimed, the proportion of seminary students’ would be minimal, as people from every walk of life were joining the march.
“By taking up the maderssah issue, you [government] want to garner international support,” Rehman said.
“The prizes you [prime minister] distributed among students of seminaries was an attempt to counter us but it was in vain.”
He urged the “establishment, bureaucracy and police not to back this illegitimate government and distance themselves from it”.
“We have stated our policy. We do not want to clash with institutions, that we want to respect them.
“But if the institutions adopt a policy to clash with the people, then, if these institutions suffer damage in future, whose fault will it be?”
When asked if he thought that the “selectors” were disappointed in the current government, Rehman said: “That would be in accordance with human nature. Our institutions should be tired and disappointed […] but it surprises me that even after such obvious failures and crises they (institutions) insist that they will back this government.”
The JUI-F chief denied that there was any similarity between the sit-ins held by the now-ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s Tahirul Qadri and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Khadim Rizvi, saying he was leading a march for “independence” of the public.
He was visibly annoyed when asked if the party was collecting donations for its march and said: “Why wouldn’t we? It is our right, where else will we get money from? Why is there so much noise over this?
“We are not being funded by any Western country. We are asking our workers, friends.”