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JUI-F Azadi March started from Karachi

28 October, 2019

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The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) ‘Azadi March’, led by the faction’s chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, set out on Sunday afternoon from Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area towards Islamabad.

Thousands of people, including seminary students, are participating in the march. In addition, convoys of political parties, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Awami National Party (ANP) and others, joined the march.

Besides the JUI-F leadership, PPP leaders Raza Rabbani and Saeed Ghani; PML-N leaders Mohammad Zubair and Nihal Hashmi; ANP’s Shahi Syed and others are on board the leading container.

Addressing the participants of the march, Maulana Fazlur Rehman 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 had been a curfew in Kashmir for the past three months. He demanded the international community take notice of human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir.

Talking about the domestic political scenario, the JUI-F chief said that the opposition had denied all demands of the negotiation team sent by the government and would hold their sit-in as per the decisions made by the judiciary.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan will have to resign. Hundreds of thousands have gathered in Karachi. What will the government do when people from across the country reach Islamabad?” he asked. The JUI-F chief questioned the forces who had brought Moin Qureshi [a green card holder] from abroad in 1993 to appoint him as caretaker prime minister for three months. “Our citizenship [on the other hand] is questioned; they declare us Pashtun and Afghan,” he said.

Fazl’s remarks come in the backdrop of PEMRA’s directive, a day earlier, asking all TV channels to refrain from inviting JUI-F’s Hafiz Hamdullah, saying that he is a “confirmed alien”. The JUI-F chief said that the opposition doesn’t believe in such “flawed laws”. He said what the opposition does believe in is democracy and the constitution, and wants the sovereignty of the country. “I will announce the future course of action in Islamabad,” he said.

“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 would have to answer for the tactics it had been employing against the opposition. He thanked the political leaders participating in the march. On Sunday evening, the caravan reached Hyderabad and after a brief layover, left for Sakrand – the home district of PPP Parliamentarians President Asif Ali Zardari. The aim was to reach Sukkur where the caravan would stay for the night before proceeding towards Punjab.

The JUI-F chief made a brief speech to his charged party workers at the bypass who were waiting for him since noon. The JUI-F’s cadre from Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas divisions joined the march at the bypass.

Fazl said that the way JUI-F supporters had welcomed him had emboldened the entire nation. He said that with this show of spirit “this sea of people will reach Islamabad to sweep away rulers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf like a straw”.

He thanked political parties for supporting his march. “I want to give a clear message to rulers through this march that we don’t accept your illegitimate power,” he said.

He vowed to expose conspiracies hatched by Pakistani rulers against people of Kashmir, saying that the nation would not accept the “rulers’ bargain” on Kashmir.

He said that the JUI-F would not let them sell Kashmir and would keep the Kashmiri movement alive. He also said that he would not allow “an attack on democracy” or allow anyone to “commit a robbery over the votes of Pakistanis”.

The JUI-F leader said his party had fought for civil liberties and the democratic process and it was in the forefront of the struggle yet again.

Sindh Minister for Information and Archives and Labour Saeed Ghani said the PPP’s Karachi division had made arrangements to welcome the protesters and they would be received by PPP leaders in Jamshoro.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, marchers gathered at meeting points in Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Charsadda and Buner.

Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of opposition parties left Quetta to participate in the march. JUI-F Balochistan chief Maulana Abdul Wasey led the caravan. The march started from Kuchlak area of Quetta. “We will continue our struggle until the removal of the current rulers,” Maulana Wasey told reporters before leaving for Islamabad.

“Our sit-in will continue in Islamabad till the resignation of the prime minister,” PPP leader Ali Madad Jattak said. The participants of the march will pass through Loralai and Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab and then reach Islamabad to join the anti-government protest. The marchers are expected to arrive in Islamabad by October 31.

On Saturday, the JUI-F and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government agreed that the protesters would gather at a ground in H-9 Sector but not enter the federal capital’s Red Zone.

A written agreement was signed between the Islamabad deputy commissioner and JUI-F Islamabad General Secretary Mufti Mohammad Abdullah.

The opposition, in view of the verdicts of the apex and Islamabad High Court, said it would ensure that the basic rights of public were not affected due to their protest. The opposition parties would ensure that the protesters do not leave the designated venue. Besides, they would also be responsible for their internal security.

The organisers of the protest would submit in writing to the Islamabad administration that they would abide by all the clauses mentioned on the no-objection certificate. If any of the clauses on the NOC or the agreement were violated, action would be taken against the protesters. The agreement would be deemed null and void.

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