Fazl to lead Azadi March from Sukkur on Oct 27: report

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Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has decided to lead Azadi March from Sukkur on Oct 27, a private news channel reported on Thursday.

The campaign will be started from Sindh as sources close to Rehman say that he fears being arrested by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial governments in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan which might also attempt to hamper the march.

It was learnt that the Sindh government will help Rehman’s Azadi March by providing facilities that would allow the protest to gain momentum by the time it enters Punjab.

Sources say that the JUI-F chief does not intend for a prolonged sit-in in the federal capital like the one led by Prime Minister Imran Khan when he was in opposition.

Rehman said he will announce the next plan of action himself after reaching Islamabad. “Protests will be staged nationwide if Azadi March is disrupted,” he warned.

Earlier this week, the JUI-F chief had announced that the date of the Azadi March had been changed from Oct 27 to Oct 31, stating that nationwide rallies would be observed by his party’s provincial chapters to express solidarity with the people of Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) on the 27th.

Speaking to reporters, the JUI-F chief said the march will “begin” on Oct 27, with protesters taking to streets to express solidarity with Kashmir cause.

“We have decided to enter Islamabad on October 31,” the JUI-F said, explaining that the days following October 27 will allow caravans from faraway districts of the country to reach the capital.

The change of heart came after the party came under criticism from government quarters for choosing Oct 27 (the date of IOK’s accession to India) to start his anti-government movement.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had asked Fazl to change protest date to a suitable one as the Oct 27 marked the day of solidarity with Kashmiri people.

Besides the government, the opposition parties, particularly the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, had also tried to convince Fazl to postpone the protest till November so that they would be able to mobilise their supporters.

However, Fazl went ahead to announce the date of the protest, hinting at a solo flight. The opposition parties have yet to make a final decision on whether to join the JUI-F sit-in or not.