–PPP, PML-N leaders oppose JUI-F’s suggestion to march towards D-Chowk
–Rehbar Committee head says open to negotiations but govt’s attitude is ‘inappropriate’
ISLAMABAD: The joint opposition’s Rehbar Committee, formed to negotiate with the government on matters related to Azadi March, on Saturday said that recommendations, including en bloc resignations and countrywide shutter-down strike, are currently under consideration.
Addressing a press conference flanked by other members of the committee, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani said that they were open to negotiations with the government but the latter’s attitude is not appropriate.
Besides resignations from the parliament and strike, blocking highways and locking down the whole country at the district level and all other options necessary for any movement are also being considered, said Durrani.
“We have signed an agreement with DC Islamabad and stand by it,” he said, adding that any irresponsible action by “non-democratic forces” would be against the national interest.
“All opposition parties are unanimous on this point and oppose it,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal said that he was shocked to know that Prime Minister Imran Khan had waived off the mandatory requirement of passport for the visiting Sikh pilgrims from India.
“We welcome Sikh pilgrims, who are set to visit the country for Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary next week, but how can an Indian citizen cross an international border and enter the Pakistani territory without the basic document… it means you are changing the status of that territory,” he added.
“This government has turned Pakistan into a laughing stock with blunders such as this.”
Sources privy to the discussions held in the Rehbar Committee meeting told Pakistan Today that PPP and PML-N representatives opposed the suggestion of marching towards D-Chowk and prolonging the protest.
“Leaders of the two major opposition parties said that it would not be a wise move to breach the agreement reached with the government,” the sources said, adding that the PML-N and PPP were of the opinion that there’s no need to create anarchy by marching towards D-Chowk.
Sources said that the JUI-F members expressed their desire to prolong the sit-in for some more time, however a final decision in this regard would be reached after consultation with heads of all opposition parties.
Earlier in the day, the government rejected the opposition’s demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran as the Azadi March protest in the federal capital entered the second day.
Head of government’s negotiating committee, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, said that Prime Minister Imran’s “resignation was out of the question”.
The reply by the government comes after JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had demanded the PM’s resignation within two days on Friday night.
The defence minister further warned the leaders of opposition parties that the government will not show leniency if they backtracked from the earlier agreement reached with the government.
Thousands of JUI-F workers descended on the capital late on October 31 night after their five-day marathon journey which set off from Karachi on October 27.
Security remains tight in Islamabad with the government and diplomatic sector – just a few kilometres from the rally site – sealed off, and roads blocked shipping containers.