Fazl ends Islamabad sit-in, orders JUI-F workers to block highways


–JUI-F’s Soomro says protesters inching towards success with each step under ‘Plan B’


ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F)’s Azadi March entered the next phase on Wednesday as the party activated its ‘Plan B’ for the anti-government protests by calling off the sit-in in Islamabad and directing workers to block all major highways of the country.

A party meeting was held under the chairmanship of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, where the party decided to end the sit-in and block major highways across Pakistan. Soon after the meeting, the JUI-F chief announced expansion of protests and reiterated his demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Following the decision, the participants of the Azadi March dismantled their tents and started gathering their belongings to leave the sit-in venue. Meanwhile, JUI-F activists along with Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) workers, proceeded to block the Quetta-Chaman Highway for traffic. Workers from both parties have blocked the Syed Hameed Cross for traffic, causing problems for the passengers. On the other hand, a large contingent of levies forces reached the spot and started negotiating with the protesters to open the highway.

JUI-F leader Attaur Rehman, while addressing the participants of the sit-in, said that the party’s Plan B has swung into action. “We have started a protest on the Quetta-Chaman Highway,” said Rehman, adding that the protesters will also block Chakdara Chowk in Lower Dir and Indus Highway according to the plan.

He said that the Shahrah-e-Resham was blocked as well by the Azadi Marchers. “We will close Indus Highway at the Link Road whereas in Punjab, we have already blocked the G T Road,” he added. Rehman further said that the party workers will start implementation on Plan B from Thursday at 2:00 PM.

JUI-F leader Rashid Soomro urged the protesters to gather at Hub River Road on Thursday at 2:00 pm. “Workers should not carry sticks to the sit-in protests,” he said, adding that ambulances must be allowed to pass through.

He said that one should not think that the Azadi March was nearing its end, adding that the protest was inching towards success with each step. “From 2:00 PM on Thursday, the motorway in Sukkur will be blocked,” he said, adding that at the same time, the road linking Ghotki to Punjab will also be closed.

Soomro further said that the Hub River Road will also be closed and the same will be done to the road that links Kandhkot to Punjab.

On Tuesday, Fazl had set the ‘Plan B’ in motion, hoping to bring the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on its knees over his demand for the premier’s resignation.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the executive committee of the party that was held at Fazl’s residence to chalk out a future strategy against the government.

It may be noted that the opposition has refused to become part of any violent move by the JUI-F and has only lent its token support to the marchers that have been gathered at the H-9 venue for more than a week now.