JUI-F wins Opp’s support for Azadi March


ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties on Tuesday agreed to join the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) upcoming Azadi March towards Islamabad but no agreement could be reached regarding staging a sit-in or enforcing a lockdown on the federal capital.

The leaders and workers of opposition parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP), will participate in the march.

Sources inside the Rehbar Committee told Pakistan Today that leaders of the major opposition parties who met on Tuesday to devise a joint strategy agreed on the removal of religious clauses from the charter of demands.

“We have convinced the JUI-F to remove religious clauses from the agenda of the march. The plan to lock down the capital would be discussed once the march reaches Islamabad,” sources said.

When asked to elaborate the religious clauses, sources said that JUI-F had been advised against playing the religion card.

“We asked JUI-F to remove slogans and demands pertaining to Namoos-e-Risalat and Namoos-e-Sahaba. We also asked them to shun their campaign against the Ahmadis as well,” sources added.

When asked about the demands of the opposition parties, sources said that the new charter includes demand for immediate elections without military supervision, protection of Islamic provisions and autonomy for democratic state institutions.

Sources said that the opposition parties were open to mediation over its demands and if the premier agrees to hold new elections, the march could be postponed.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters, Rehbar Committee Convener Akram Durrani said that the opposition parties do not want to clash with the army, however, they are of the view that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government should be sent packing. “If the government is given more time, the economy would suffer,” he said.

“Industries are on the brink of closure whereas doctors, government employees and even farmers are protesting. Unnecessary restrictions have been enforced on the media and no other segment of the society is happy. The rulers must go home now,” he added.

Without offering any explanations, Durrani accused the government of “selling out” the Kashmir cause, adding that if the PTI government is not sent home, it would sell the entire country.

Speaking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority formed by the government PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said that the authority would bring the ministries at loggerheads. “CPEC does not need any authority, it needs investments,” he said.

Iqbal also said that the government should allocate Rs1 billion every year to carry on ML-I (railways upgradation project). “On one hand, the government is implementing ML-I while on the other, it has decreased the development budget of Pakistan Railways from Rs40 billion to Rs16 billion. Budget cuts in Pakistan Railways amount to disservice to the country,” he concluded.