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JUI-F Azadi march: Fazl meets Saudi envoy

Top Story

October 11, 2019

ISLAMABAD: JUI-F leader Maulana Fazalur Rehman had an important meeting with Ambassador of Saudi Arabia Admiral (retd) Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki here at the Saudi Mission in the Diplomatic Enclave on Thursday.

More: Azadi March and 2014 sit-in: Political alignments, justifications for protest remain the same

No official word has been given by the either side about the meeting, but highly-placed sources told The News that a senior official of the government also had a meeting with the ambassador later in the afternoon. The meetings of the Saudi envoy here have conspicuous significance in the backdrop of speculations that the government is exploring all avenues to woo the JUI-F leaders, including availing good offices of foreign dignitaries who have throughout been maintaining close association with the Maulana so that he should be persuaded to call off his Azadi march and later sit-in in the federal capital towards the end of the month.

Related: Nawaz writes to Fazl, backs ‘Azadi March’

Saudi Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, who is widely respected in Pakistan, had a meeting with the Maulana and others to make a political assessment of the situation prevailing in his host country. He returned from Riyadh on Monday (October 7) and is likely to return to the Kingdom today (Friday) for submitting the situation report and consultations with his leadership.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is leaving for SaudiArabia on Sunday (October 13) for two-day stay in Saudi Arabia where he will have meetings with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) and some other high-profile functionaries of the Royal Saudi administration.

Some highly placed figures will be part of the entourage of the prime minister. The Crown Prince is calling the shots in the Kingdom and viewed as the strong man of the country who has introduced drastic reforms within the Kingdom and brought about major reshuffle in the exterior look of the Kingdom as well. The sources reminded that Prime Minister Imran Khan and stalwarts of the ruling party have been avoiding frontal attacking against the Maulana for quite sometimes as part of new strategy of appeasement.

It would be merited to recall that Saudi Arabia is the one country that had been playing reconciliatory role between warring political divides in Pakistan right from the beginning. Whenever the situation of no-return reaches in Pakistan between government and its political rivals, Saudi intervention provided relief.

Meanwhile, Maulana Fazalur Rehman left for Rabwah to chair Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Conference being held in that city. He couldn’t be contacted for his comments about his meeting with the Saudi Ambassador since he was travelling by road. Maulana Fazalur Rehman will be reaching Peshawar tomorrow (Saturday) to address his party workers and meeting leaders of likeminded parties, the JUI sources said.

The Maulana will be returning here next week, and it is believed that Saudi Ambassador will have yet another meeting with him upon his returning from Saudi Arabia with fresh instructions. The JUI leader has stepped up his preparations for Azadi march since he has given instructions to his workers to establish close liaison with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and PPP workers on local level, the sources added.