To the march?

 
October 18, 2019

Across political and social circles in the country, the focus is on the march Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his JUI-F plans to take to Islamabad on Oct 27. There have been analyses that the main purpose...

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Across political and social circles in the country, the focus is on the march Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his JUI-F plans to take to Islamabad on Oct 27. There have been analyses that the main purpose behind the march and a sit-in which may follow is to revive the fortunes of the JUI-F. The party did not fare well at last year’s polls and it has been noticed that ‘dharnas’ have generally served many groups rather well. There is significant drama attached to the October 27 march. On a television show on Wednesday evening, a senior office bearer of the JUI-F put in writing his claim that the march would topple the PTI government and that 1.5 million people would be brought to Islamabad. He was responding to Minister Faisal Vawda who had ridiculed the JUI-F's claims. In the meanwhile, PM Imran Khan has set up a committee under Defence Minister Pervez Khattak to look into the march. Khattak has hinted the government may be willing to talk to Maulana Fazl while Sheikh Rasheed has said he has already been speaking to JUI-F leaders in an effort to call off the march.

Preparations for the march however seem to be going ahead at full pace. Maulana Asharafi, head of the JUI-F in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has said it will never be possible to stop the marchers from reaching Islamabad. Asharafi also mentioned the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Movement while talking about the march at a television show, which raises some questions about the agenda of the JUI-F. Is the main purpose of the march to protest inflation and governmental incompetence as Maulana Fazl has said, or are there different agendas being put forward for various groups? While Bilawal Bhutto has supported the political demand of the JUI-F and said the PPP will join the march, it is difficult to see him doing so if the 'religion card' is used in a serious sense. The same is true of the ANP. The speculation is that the religion slogan may have been raised to attract JUI-F cadres to the event and also other politico-religious groups. The PML-N has also said it stands by the JUI-F, but the coming few days will be important. In a victory for the pro-march groups, the Islamabad High Court has declared that there is nothing illegal about the march and it should be allowed to proceed. On Wednesday evening, Pemra had prevented TV channels form airing Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s press talk. According to the government, the march is not in Pakistan's interests. For now, we wait and see how many political parties join the march, and hope there is no violence in Islamabad or at any other place.


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