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Fazl meets Shahbaz: PML-N to join JUI-F’s Azadi March

Top Story

October 19, 2019

LAHORE/KARACHI: Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif finally announced on Friday that his party was joining the so-called Azadi march in Islamabad on Oct 31.

The march has been planned mainly by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. With the announcement, the PML-N chief put to rest the rumours that he and other senior party stalwarts would not join the biggest anti-government show, in which almost all opposition parties have agreed to participate.

Talking to the media at party secretariat, following nearly two-hour meeting with the JUI-F delegation, led by Fazlur Rehman, Shahbaz said the PML-N would extend complete support to the Azadi march in the light of instructions contained in a letter by party supremo ­Nawaz Sharif. He said the PML-N would welcome Azadi march in Islamabad where a massive rally and public meeting would be held on Oct 31 to present demands by joint opposition and also declare the future strategy against the government.

Shahbaz said the opposition would ‘expose’ the 14-month performance of the selected government, raise voice for realisation of freedom and human rights of Kashmiris, and give hope of recovering from the socio-economic catastrophe, created by the Imran Khan government. He warned that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to shift the blame of his own and his team’s incompetence to the state institutions and was making a false case against the PML-N for leaving a bad economy. Shahbaz said the economy was in very good shape during the PML-N government, as the growth rate was at 5.6 per cent, which had fallen to 2.4 during the PTI tenure, as estimated by the World Bank. He said Imran had badly failed the country on every front despite enjoying full support from the institutions. He said had the governments received just 25 per cent of the support which Imran was enjoying, Pakistan would have made great progress.

Shahbaz declared that entire nation from Karachi to Peshawar was unanimously demanding that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government should go home, and as soon as possible fresh elections should take place. He said if any government by the opposition parties was formed as a result of transparent elections, “I promise I will make country’s economy self-sufficient and make it stand on its feet in just six months”.

He lamented that as a result of the PTI policies, economy had crashed, investments halted, businesses were closed down, poor people were dying for want of medicines and treatment, price-hike was at its peak and people were unable to make ends meet.

"If we are given a chance to serve the nation, we will work hard day and night for elimination of unemployment, poverty and illness the way we did for a dengue outbreak, the way we installed power plants under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. The way we took Pakistan to progress and new heights, we will do so once more,” he added. He said it is not just the opposition parties, but "entire Pakistan is standing unanimously with Maulana Fazlur Rehman, demanding that the selected government and selected prime minister should be sent packing at the earliest."

Maulana Fazlur Rehman expressed gratitude to the PML-N “for making a final decision to reach Islamabad along with all opposition parties on Oct 31, which is in fact the voice of the whole nation”, adding, “My thanks to all opposition parties for extending full cooperation and increasing our strength against the incompetent and illegal government.” He said: "We have decided to enter Islamabad on Oct 31 so that caravans reaching from nearby and far away places can both enter simultaneously."

He said Oct 27 is the solidarity day with Kashmiris since on this day Indian army crossed into Kashmir to occupy the region. He said the Azadi march would express support to Kashmiris for helping them achieve their freedom. He said when we will reach Islamabad with the support of entire nation, we will proceed further in complete consultation with all opposition parties. All future decisions will be made in joint consultation between the parties."

The JUI-F president said no talks could be held with government unless prime minister resigned. He said: “The government is not serious in talks, which is evident from its mannerisms as, on the one hand, they are forming committees for negotiations, and on the other, they are hurling abuses and bad-mouthing against us”. He said: "Criticism and verbal abuses can’t go side by side with negotiations. If the government is serious, it should hand in a resignation first and then we can hold talks on future plan of action."

Separately, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, along with a party delegation, called on Pakistan Muslim League (PML) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi at their residence here on Friday. They congratulated Ch Shujaat Hussain on his recovery.

The delegation consisted of Senator Talha Mahmood, Maulana Abdul Haideri, Maulana Amjad and other leaders while Federal Housing Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema, MNAs Moonis Elahi and Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Provincial Minerals Minister Hafiz Ammar Yasir, Shafay Hussain and Gulzar Chaudhry were also present on the occasion.

Maulana Fazl told Ch Shujaat: “Almighty Allah has provided you an opportunity to return home with health and serve the country. In the prevailing political atmosphere, your political wisdom is needed. Your services for the country can never be forgotten.”

Ch Shujaat responded by saying “I am every ready to serve the country and the nation”. The delegation was welcomed by Ch Pervaiz Elahi.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also launched his protest movement against the PTI-led coalition government. He said that time was up for the incumbent PTI-led coalition government, which is working against the interests of people. He said all patriotic and opposition forces in the country had decided to get rid of the selected regime.

He was addressing a public meeting near Mazar-e-Quaid on the anniversary of Karsaz tragedy (Oct 18, 2007), when Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming rally was bombed.

The PPP chairman sought support from followers of his party to send the PTI government packing, which was formed as a result of a heavily-rigged election process in 2018.

He said the PTI government should be sent packing for restoring democracy in the country and securing economic and human rights of masses.

“Everyone now clearly sees that a compromise has been made on the Kashmir issue. The work on CPEC has come to a halt while economy of the country is sinking,” he alleged. “Tolerating anymore this ineligible, incompetent government is equal to playing with the solidarity of the country,” added the PPP chairman.

“Continuing support to (Prime Minister) Imran could serve someone’s personal interests, but it is certainly not in the interest of the country,” said Bilawal.

The PPP chairman said that national institutions had been made controversial the way the last general elections had been conducted in the country. He said results of the last general elections had been delayed for up to three days. He said it also happened for the first time that troops had been deployed inside and outside the polling stations. He said their objections to such practices during the last general elections had been ignored by the Election Commission. He said that rigging in the same manner had been done in the by-polls, held the other day in PS-11 Larkana constituency. He said his party would once more expose the rigging done in the by-poll, as it would get re-election done in the constituency for the sake of fairness of the electoral process.

He said the PTI government deceived Karachi as it did not provide promised package for development of the city. He said that due fiscal share of Sindh was being denied by the government, affecting development and progress of all its towns.

The PPP chairman announced launching of a countrywide anti-government agitation drive under which he would hold rallies and public meetings from Karachi to Kashmir. He said that his mass-contact campaign would mobilise masses against the government to send it packing.