Govt, Opp fail to break Azadi March impasse


–Defence Minister Pervez Khattak says govt has agreed to several of Opp’s demands, talks will continue

–Rehbar Committee chief Durrani says Opp sticking to demands of PM’s resignation, holding of general elections without army supervision

–PM says govt willing to entertain all demands of Opp, except his resignation

–Fazl ‘advises’ Imran to resign if he wants Azadi marchers to disperse, calls out institutions involved in enforced disappearances; calls on Chaudhry brothers at midnight 


ISLAMABAD: As the Azadi sit-in spearheaded by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman entered its sixth day, a deadlock between the joint opposition and the government continues over the terms put forth by the opposition’s Rehbar Committee.

The demands include immediate resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, re-elections in the country, no role of the army in the electoral process, and supremacy of the constitution.

The opposition and government delegation sat together for a second meeting on Tuesday; however, the consultations failed to resolve the impasse as both sides stuck to their respective demands.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said both the sides stuck to their respective positions

“The government agreed to several of the opposition’s demands and that talks will continue on the rest of them after consultations with the two sides’ leadership,” he said, adding that the government was trying to find a middle ground with the opposition to break the ongoing deadlock. Khattak said the talks between the two sides were held in a “good atmosphere”.

Speaking on the occasion, Head of Rehbar Committee Akram Durrani said the opposition delegation was standing firmly on their demands of the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and new general polls.

Durrani said that the Rehbar Committee has also demanded that the fresh polls would be conducted without army’s supervision.

Earlier, the government’s negotiation committee held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran for consultation on contacts with opposition parties.

During the meeting, the committee briefed the premier over its discussion with the Rehbar Committee members. The participants also reviewed the current political situation in the country.

PM Imran said that the government is ready to accept opposition’s legal demands under law and constitution if it shows seriousness for negotiations.

Earlier in the day, both sides held separate meetings to chalk out a strategy concerning the sit-in.

Similarly, the Rehbar Committee also held a meeting at the residence of Akram Khan Durrani to evolve a strategy regarding the Azadi March.


In a late-night development, the JUI-F chief called on Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain at their residence to discuss the political developments in the wake of the Azadi March. The Chaudhry brothers urged Fazl to enter into negotiations with the government.

Earlier, Pervaiz Elahi called on the prime minister and the leaders of the opposition parties.

Speaking to media, Elahi said that he was hopeful the talks will be successful, but that it will require some time. He said the matter of the government “showing flexibility regarding resignations” will come under discussion at a later stage.


Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Fazl addressed the participants of the dharna and claimed that the entire opposition has rejected the government’s offer to form a judicial commission to probe rigging.

Fazl wondered why anyone hadn’t protested against the PTI dharna in 2014 but were speaking out against the Azadi March. He reiterated his demand for the resignation of the prime minister, saying the sooner “you resign the sooner we go home”.

He also took the government to the task for carrying out revenge politics in the name of accountability. Fazl said the “country’s economy is on a downward spiral and debts are accumulating on a daily basis” due to the ‘incompetent’ policies of the government.

“For the first time in Pakistan’s history, three budgets were presented. And despite that, they could not meet tax targets,” he added.

The JUI-F chief also called out the institutions that are involved in the practice of “enforced disappearances” with impunity. He said people remain missing for 12-15 years with their aging parents, their children, “all crying their eyes out but these callous people never have the decency to inform them they have been captured by them”.

“And if they are criminals, why are they not brought before the court?” he asked without naming the institution.

On Monday, the government negotiating committee and opposition’s Rehbar Committee had held a detailed discussion during which the opposition reiterated its demands regarding the Azadi March.

PTI leader and member of the government negotiating team Shafqat Mehmood had said the government rejected the prime minister’s resignation demand. “The government is willing to uphold the “supremacy” of parliament as demanded by the opposition,” he had added.

In a late-night development, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had also called on Fazl in an effort to defuse the political tension. He was accompanied by his cousin Elahi, who had been flown to Islamabad from Lahore for this meeting.

Following the meeting, Elahi had said that the opposition has already presented its demands and the prime minister has convened a meeting to discuss them on Tuesday. “Hopefully they would find a way out of the crisis,” he said.


The Azadi marchers led by Maulana Fazl at the H-9 ground in the federal capital are staying put. They demand the resignation of the prime minister as well as fresh polls.

The march reached Islamabad on Thursday and a big gathering was convened the subsequent day, addressed by opposition leaders, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.