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October 29, 2019

Battle lines are drawn: Fazl

Top Story

October 29, 2019

ISLAMABAD/SUKKUR: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman on Monday said there would be no return and no retreat and the Azadi March would continue till the sitting rulers were sent home. He said this while addressing a mammoth rally in Sukkur.

The JUI-F started the second phase of its Azadi March from Sukkur attended by thousands of people. The march was given a warm welcome at Ubauro and other towns.

Fazl said the political battle had begun and there would be no return and no retreat. He said they were on the streets for the sake of democracy, Pakistan and Islam and they had not struck any deal with the rulers and there was no question of following or not following the imaginary deal.

Fazl further said they were fighting a political war and there existed a danger to the country’s constitution. Referring to the march, he said the purpose was to strengthen democracy in the country.

Thanking political parties, he said, “I salute the political parties which have participated in the march. The present cruel regime is not the true representative of the masses. Every segment of the society is facing hardships created by the government.”

Meanwhile, the Azadi March on Monday entered the Rahim Yar Khan District of the Punjab after crossing the Punjab-Sindh border at Kammoo Shaheed check-post.

The Punjab government as well as the police have changed their strategy and removed all containers and other instruments, which they had placed to seal the Sindh-Punjab border and Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Multan districts at the Sutlej Bridge near Bahawalpur on Monday morning.

The Azadi March is expected to reach Lahore on Tuesday night. Fazl and other opposition leaders will be welcomed at six reception camps set up by the opposition parties along the Multan Road, but they are scheduled to address the main public meeting at Chauburji Chowk on Lake Road. Besides, they will also address the crowd at Thoker Niaz Beg.

The opposition leaders will stay in the night at the lawns of Minar-e-Pakistan under tents and parking space to them will be provided in the vicinity, said JUI-F Lahore Information Secretary Hafiz Ghazanfar Aziz while talking to The News.

The participants of Azadi March would leave Multan for Lahore on Tuesday morning (today). After their night stay in the provincial metropolis, they will leave for Islamabad on Wednesday morning via GT Road.

A PML-N spokesperson said the party would set up six reception camps in the city for the marchers at Thoker Niaz Beg, Samanabad Mor, Chauburji Chowk, Bhati Gate, Minar-i-Pakistan and Shahdra Mor.

The PML-N leadership has directed the party MNAs and MPAs to make necessary preparations to receive the march. The PML-N activists will join the march from Lahore on its way to Islamabad, whereas the party President Shahbaz Sharif will join the march in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Monday said Prime Minister Imran Khan will submit his resignation soon. “The people of Pakistan have given a clear message that the ‘puppet’ prime minister cannot run the country and all political parties are united against the ‘puppet’ government so the time has come for the ‘selected’ prime minter to go home,” he said while talking to newsmen after visiting his father Asif Ali Zardari at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) here.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and legal team, comprising Senator Farooq H Naek and Sardar Latif Khosa, accompanied him. Asked if removing a government from power through rallies and sit-ins was a correct step, he said the PPP still stood with democracy and Parliament but unfortunately the government had itself locked down Parliament and imposed censorship on the media.

“The government through its inability and incompetence forced the opposition to protest, as when they have locked down Parliament and imposed sanctions on the freedom of media then what option is let for the opposition instead of staging a protest,” he said.

Bilawal said the PPP always supported democracy and Parliament despite a hundred reservations. “Even today, we stand with Parliament and democracy. We are standing at a very difficult place because this PM of ours has locked Parliament himself, banned the media, made the NAB a toy and is pressurising courts. The options are slimming and we are being compelled to focus on protest only,” he continued.

He said protest was a democratic norm but it will always be the PPP’s objective that there is no harm to democracy and no third power should get the chance.

“I say so today what I said yesterday. As I have emphasised that they have closed their own institution — Parliament — and placed us in a difficult situation. Even democratic forces are compelled to take extreme steps,” he added.

Replying to question, he said the Azadi March had just begun and a lot many things lay in near future to happen.

Bilawal said the participation of members from every party in the Azadi March and unification of various political parties had sent a good message, adding that he had asked his party workers to welcome the participants of the march when they enter the federal capital.

“People are coming out in favor of this call and you may have seen in Karachi that the JUI-F have their flags but PML-N and PPP’s flags are also there. This sends out a very nice message that when political parties work together, they can gather solutions for the problems faced by the public. There are so many problems in the country right now that one should work together while putting aside their differences,” he said.

“As for the sit-in, a commitment has been made by all parties, and I believe we are all standing by it. We are focusing on everything. The PPP office-bearers are welcoming people. As you know about my campaign of jalsas in South Punjab, it is picking pace very quickly and will start with a workers convention in Rahimyar Khan. We think all will be well as long as this march stands by democracy,” he said.

He said if God forbid, the government behaved undemocratically or deprived the people of their rights, the PPP will have to review its stance as well as schedule.

On the health of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal said despite the recommendation of board of doctors Zardari was neither provided with medical facilities in jail nor was he shifted to hospital.

“We again approached court and said their orders were not being followed, and the court said if doctors and board say, then the administration had to follow their advice.” He said Zardari was shifted to hospital for one day only and then sent back to jail affecting his health.

“We want that this should not be repeated and he should get the right to basic health,” he said. “It is a strange situation, as till now there is no conviction against Zardari. Even cases haven’t been filed. When Nawaz Sharif Sahib was an accused of the NAB, he wasn’t arrested. He was arrested only after conviction.”

However, he said Zardari was arrested before being convicted and he was still suffering in prison even when no case had been proved against him. He said the right which should be given to every prisoner was being tampered with when it came to the PPP and PML-N leadership.

“Even today, I do not trust this government, whatever doctors say. Though he is in the hospital now, he is still Imran Khan's prisoner and as long as Imran Khan is there, we do not trust that former president Zardari will be provided with the right that he deserves,” he said.

Bilawal said though he was sure that government doctors were working hard, it was their demand that they sent their own doctors too. “Our case is even more peculiar as it is of Sindh. The accused is from Sindh and the alleged crime has occurred in Sindh but the prisoner is here in Islamabad. Not only the family and lawyers, but also doctors are facing difficulties, which is unconstitutional and illegal,” he said.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Monday said PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was in a massive shock after the Larkana by-election defeat, knowing his party was losing support in Sindh.

Reacting to his media talk during which he came down hard on the government as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan, the special assistant claimed Bilawal was still suffering from the poll defeat in Larkana and could not come out of it yet.

“His irrational talk is also proof of the fact that he is suffering from massive shock and has come to the conclusion that the PPP is now being wiped out in Sindh as well for the people have rejected them,” she maintained.

Dr Awan contended that how could the government be blamed if Asif Ali Zardari was suffering from ailment. She said the government was providing medical facilities to him from the tax-payers’ money.