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October 17, 2019

Talks on Azadi March: Govt proposes, Fazl disposes

Top Story

October 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of possible JUI-F’s showdown, the government announced a committee headed by Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak to engage with Maulana Fazlur Rehman who had announced the Azadi March on Islamabad by October 31.

More: JUI-F gives written undertaking to topple govt

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Vice Chairman, told a news conference, following the hurriedly called core committee meeting that a decision had been taken to engage with Maulana Fazl in response to JUI-Fazl’s planned march on the federal capital to send Prime Minister Imran Khan packing. Imran Khan chaired the meeting.

He said that a committee had been formed, which would get in touch with Maulana Fazl, emphasising, “We are a political party and fully capable and willing to deliver political solution to political matters”.

Qureshi contended if anything Maulana Fazl said during the proposed talks, having political weight, “We are ready to listen to it and if a reasonable solution emerges, we will accord it priority. It is not that we have any fear, I must emphasis on it.”

He made it clear saying, “If someone thought that with a dharna, governments could be sent packing, we had a 126-day experience... we are not novice in the matter”.

About the seething humanitarian crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir, he reiterated that a political solution to the conflict must be sought and emphasised that Pakistan was now fighting for the Kashmir cause on international fora and a unified stance must be presented in that regard.

The foreign minister continued that October 27 was that despicable day on which Indian forces had landed in Srinagar and occupied Kashmir. He then paused to lay emphasis on the word to highlight the solemnity that must be accorded to the day.

Qureshi said that the government's Kashmir Cell had, therefore, decided to observe the day with due respect and in solidarity with Kashmiris. He explained, "So we have to see whether we harm this larger purpose in pursuit of a narrower, local agenda", indirectly referring to the Maulana Fazl’s march.

He also noted that the other consideration should be that the government had just surmounted a massive economic challenge over thepast 13 months and brought Pakistan back to stability. He laid emphasis on the fact when PTI formed government, all the macroeconomic indicators were painting a very bleak picture, whether it was the fiscal deficit, the current account deficit, the trade deficit, the investment levels, the unemployment figures, exports, imports, or debt servicing capabilities.

PTI leader said that the government just now had begun to witness an economic turnaround, and at this time if there was even a hint of instability, it would adversely affect the national economy. He added that keeping these factors in view, the government had decided in favour of political engagement and remarked, “let's see what response do we get from (JUI-Fazl)”.

The meeting reviewed overall law and order situation in the country and discussed internal security situation and measures for the protection of lives and properties of the people. During the meeting, the prime minister was briefed about security arrangements for foreign heads of states visiting Pakistan in coming days.

The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah, Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and other senior officers.

The core committee decided that the local government (LG) elections in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on non-party basis would be held in phases from February 2020. About the much-discussed statement of Minister for Science and Technology Ch Fawad Hussain, he said that his statement on jobs was twisted by the media.

In a series of tweets, Dr Awan made it clear to those, trying to throw the students of seminaries into political furnace, should know that neither the masses nor patwaris or police officers were with them. She advised PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal to facilitate reconciliation among his party leaders instead of provoking people for agitation.

She alleged both the Looters League and Fake Accounts Party were ostensibly with Maulana Fazl but from within were opposed to him. She accused both parties of ‘double speak’. “Under what justification, those who played with the economy, are today giving lectures. They are unhappy over the fact that the rule of law in Naya Pakistan is giving dividends for they preferred loot and plunder instead of thinking about the economy’s improvement,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman rejected government’s decision of talks with him saying there can be no negotiations with the government till Prime Minister Imran Khan tenders his resignation.

“There can be no talks with the government till it quits and Prime Minister Imran Khan resigns,” Fazlur Rehman while talking to newsmen at his residence after meeting Mehmood Khan Achakzai of Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party and PML-N leader Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir said.

The JUI-F chief was asked to comment on decision of the PTI's core committee meeting to form four-member committee headed by the defence minister to meet him.

Fazlur Rehman said that all tactics of the PTI government, which was spreading misunderstandings and confusion regarding the Azad March and sit-in have failed. He warned that functioning of the government would be jammed if any attempt is made to stop the protest plan.

Maintaining that all the institutions should perform while remaining within the limits as defined in the Constitution of Pakistan and there could be no second opinion on it. “If any institution tries to stop the Azadi March, it will be assumed this institution is being used by the government,” he said.

Commenting on consequences of the 1977 movement against the Bhutto government, the JUF-F top leader said that dictatorship would not be acceptable. “We will change direction of the Azadi March to them if any attempt is made to impose martial law in the country,” he said expressing the hope that all institutions including the armed forces would perform within the ambits of the Constitution.

He also suggested that all the institutions should sit at a roundtable conference to discuss difficult situation being faced by the country.

Mahmood Khan Achakzai observed that it was not proper to say that religion’s card was being used in the Azadi March. “We will fully participate in the Azadi March and it will be welcomed in all districts of Balochistan,” he said. He said that voices should also be raised from Punjab province for release of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter.

The PML-N leader from Balochistan, Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir said he would participate in the JUI-F programme even if his party’s leadership decides against it.

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