Azadi March: Nawaz says it’s time to defend rights


–Nawaz urges PML-N members to ensure success of anti-govt march, asks Fazl to release ‘comprehensive programme’

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has directed all party members to “ensure that the anti-government protest is a success”, as he urged opposition lawmakers that it was about time they stood up to “defend their rights”.

He said this through a letter written to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on October 10, which was shared with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman by a PML-N delegation that called on him on Sunday.

In his letter, Nawaz expressed his support for the anti-government protest [Azadi March], saying, “This is the time to stand up. This is the time to set aside all convenience and fight for our rights.”

“When the country’s honour, its self respect is at stake, we must stand up and defend our rights,” read the letter.

Fazl had earlier met Nawaz and had informed him of the discussions held in JUI-F’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting.

Taking note of those discussions, Nawaz said that he had given a lot of thought to the JUI-F chief’s proposals. Nawaz also asked Fazl to release a “comprehensive programme” regarding the march.

Following the meeting on Sunday, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, while addressing a press conference, said that they had put forth their party’s recommendations for the march.

“Nawaz Sharif has said that maulana sahib’s call for a protest post-elections was the right decision. We support his Azadi March,” he said. He also called on all opposition parties to participate in the march.

Speaking to the media, Fazl said that he is grateful to the PML-N for extending its support to his call for a march. “PML-N, PPP, Awami National Party, Qaumi Watan Party and Muttahida Majlis-s-Amal are all with us,” he declared.

He said that an ‘Azadi March committee’ oversees all march-related matters on a daily basis and that a session of the party’s central executive committee will be held on October 24 after which the final agenda for the march will be announced.

“There is still time. The government should resign and go home. If they do not voluntarily do so, we will be forced to send them home,” Fazl warned.

The PML-N delegation was headed by Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and included Ameer Muqam and Marriyum Aurangzeb.

On Saturday, Iqbal had said a senior delegation of the party would immediately take Nawaz’s letter to Fazl so that they can give a final shape to the programme of Azadi March.

He had said that Nawaz had agreed with the objectives of the so-called Azadi March and stressed the “important” role to be played by the PML-N in the face of a “sinking economy” for which he held the government responsible.

According to Iqbal, Nawaz had directed the party to “initiate a comprehensive movement so that we can get rid of this government”.

On Friday, incarcerated former PM Nawaz Sharif had thrown his weight behind the JUI-F’s Azadi March, saying that he “fully supports” it.

“Our viewpoint is the same as Maulana’s [Fazlur Rehman’s] viewpoint,” said Nawaz while speaking to reporters outside a Lahore accountability court.