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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Core Committee on Saturday declared in categorical terms that Prime Minister Imran Khan would neither step down nor fresh polls would be held, terming the JUI-Fazl’s demands ridiculous.
Following the opposition leaders’ speeches at the Azadi March, the Core Committee meeting was summoned for Saturday to take stock of the latest political situation with particular reference to Fazlur Rehman’s ultimatum to Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign within two days.
Among others, the meeting was attended by Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan, Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari, Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur, Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Leader of the House in the Senate Syed Shibli Faraz, Jahangir Khan Tareen, Asad Umar, Aamir Mehmood Kiani and Dr. Babar Awan.
It was learnt that there would be no elections before time and Prime Minister Imran Khan would stay, enjoying the mandate of the masses.
The committee also focused on the overall economic and political situation in the country and castigated the JUI-Fazl for criticising the state institutions just to please his foreign masters.
The forum reiterated that the government committee would continue dialogue with the opposition leadership but this must not be misconstrued as its weakness and that there could be no possibility of meeting unconstitutional and undemocratic demands of the opposition.
It also made it clear that the dialogue process could be discontinued if the opposition persisted with its blackmail.
The prime minister instructed Interior Minister Ijaz Shah to be ready for coping with any kind of situation.
“JUI-Fazl chief wants to push Pakistan into a situation, where Afghanistan was some two hundred years back. But this is next to impossible. How come a person who failed to even win his own seat from his native constituency, dare to endanger the entire democratic system in Pakistan,” a senior PTI leader said, when The News approached him for his comment on the meeting.
Meanwhile, Ali Amin Gandapur, who had defeated Fazl from his constituency in DI Khan, announced to hold a public meeting in the constituency and gather double number of people, as compared to the Azadi March.
Agencies add: Meanwhile, Defence Minister and head of the government negotiating committee Pervaiz Khan Khattak Saturday announced that the government will move court over the speeches of Azadi March leaders threatening to arrest Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Speaking to the reporters here along with senior leaders Asad Umar, Shafqat Mehmood, Pir Noorul Haq Qadri and Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan after attending the PTI Core Committee meeting, Khattak said PM Khan’s resignation was out of question and national institutions will come forward in case the country slipped towards instability.
He said the opposition would not succeed in its propaganda.
He said the government and the PTI Core Committee were saddened by the Friday’s speeches of the opposition leaders.
Khattak said they hoped the JUI F-led protesters will stick to the agreement they had reached with the government and will not violate its provisions.
“If they violated the agreement, then the administration will take action. Make no mistake about it; if anything unfortunate happens, these people will be held responsible,” he said.
“These people fear that if the PTI government completed its term, then their politics will end. There will be no talk of the prime minister resigning and no one should even consider it,” he said.
The defence minister said his team was in contact with the opposition Rehber Committee.
He said the opposition leaders criticised institutions more than government and received a response from them adding that those institutions had made huge sacrifices for ensuring peace in the country.
Khattak said the government’s doors were open for talks with the opposition but they will not allow any attempt to create chaos in the country.
He said if the march participants left their designated place to move forward, they will be breaking the agreement signed with the administration.
He said any damage caused to the lives and property will be the sole responsibility of the opposition if they resorted to violence.
The defence minister said the core committee had also regretted the statements made on container of the opposition leaders.
He said holding protest at this critical juncture when Kashmir issue was in the limelight will undermine that important cause.
He said criticism of national institutions by the march leaders will not serve any purpose.
“Our national institutions are our pride and these are working for the nation. If the opposition has any issue, they should talk to government.”
He said the core committee had decided to go to the court against Fazlur Rehman after he threatened to arrest the prime minister as it was equivalent to inciting people to mutiny.
“Whose agenda are these people following when they talk against our institutions?” Khattak asked, adding that the legal case was ready and will be filed tomorrow (Monday).
Khattak made it clear that the government will not backtrack on its word.
“We are democratic people,” Khattak asserted, accusing the JUI F rally of being undemocratic.
He said Fazlur Rehman had agreed to the matters discussed with the Rahber Committee. On the one hand, they talk about negotiations, on the other they threaten to sue force,” Khattak said.
“We are in contact with Akram Durrani. Our doors will always be open for negotiations,” he added.
In a veiled reference to the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Khattak said those who were against the use of religion card were also standing on the container.
Khattak said the PML-N leader and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif should think about how he had come into power in the past.
“If 30,000 or 40,000 people ask for resignation, then democracy cannot go on,” he added.
Replying to a question, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said Prime Minister Imran Khan had very effectively highlighted the case in the world adding that the protest march had diverted attention from the Kashmir issue.
He said the opposition should lodge their complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan if they had any objection to the national election results.
Asked if reversal of the army chief’s reappointment for another term was being demanded, the defence minister said he had not heard of any such demand, adding that the (reappointment) had already been notified.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while addressing the participants of the Azadi March on Saturday said the agreement with the government is no more effective, the government’s writ over Pakistan has ended and now “we will peacefully run this country.”
Fazlur Rehman said that his party was functioning as per the earlier agreement with the government, however, the Islamabad administration took certain steps which nullified the pact. He said his party “will run the country by remaining peaceful”.
The Maulana began addressing the participants of the march, saying that women are very much part of the march as no one has pushed them aside.
“Women are part of this protest, sitting at home and doing Zikr and prayers,” he said, adding that from the overall situation it can be imagined how much hatred prevails against the incumbent government.
Fazlur Rehman made it clear that the PTI government was the only target of protesting opposition parties and they would not leave Islamabad till the rulers are sent packing. He said moving towards the D-Chowk was also a proposal under consideration of the opposition parties. “Today, the Rehbar Committee has discussed that moving towards D-Chowk is also a proposal under consideration,” he said.
However, he said they would continue to keep sitting at the existing venue till the opposition parties’ decision in this regard.
He asked the district administration of Islamabad to act wisely otherwise protestors reaching Islamabad were sufficient for the whole federal capital. “Now we will rule over the country peacefully and you are no more ruler of the country,” he said, asking Prime Minister Imran Khan that he should use language which suits a prime minister.
Fazlur Rehman said the government says that it was keeping doors for talks open but to the contrary, it had closed all the doors. “The fake government has constituted the committee and still it says the doors are open,” he said.
He also pointed out that the government has closed all the roads to the President House, Prime Minister House and Banigala. “You have closed all the ways but still say that all doors are open,” he said.
He also asked the government to first explain its constitutional and legal position before saying that it wanted negotiations within the ambit of the Constitution.
Responding to the allegation that the Indian media was giving special coverage to the protest event, the JUI-F top leader observed that it was media all over the world which was focusing on the Azadi March. “To the contrary, it is Modi who is happy that Imran Khan is Pakistan’s prime minister,” he said.
He said that 126 days of sit-in was not ideal for them as their history is filled with protest movements. “We know how to move from one phase to other phase of the protest,” he said.
Today, he said Pakistan was facing isolation in community of the world due to foreign policy’s failure. “The government is representing Kashmir with its failed foreign policy and has further complicated the issue,” he observed, adding that Modi had snatched Kashmir from Pakistan due to the failure of foreign policy.
He termed waving of Taliban’s flags at the public meeting as propaganda against the protest plan saying that it was the incumbent government which gave protocol to Taliban leaders and welcomed them. The JUI-F leader maintained that the mainstream political parties like PML-N and PPP were with them and all the decisions would be taken jointly.
Meanwhile, through a video message, the JUI-F leader invited the participants of Tableeghi Jamaat's gathering at Raiwind to join their public meeting after offering final Dua.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties represented in the Rehbar Committee discussed the options of collective resignations from parliament, country-wide strike and lockdown to move forward the protest against the government.
The opposition parties agreed to maintain contacts with government, but refused to budge from their demands of resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and conduct of fresh general elections in the country without the supervision of the army.
"We want to remain in contact with the government, but the prime minister and defence minister say there is no question of resignation," Akram Durrani, Convener of Rehbar Committee said after nearly three hours long meeting.
Akram Durrani said the opposition parties were democratic forces and believe in talks, but the prime minister and defence minister should mind their language.
The JUI-F leader did not respond to a question about two days deadline and moving towards D-Chowk, but he told media persons that Rehbar Committee mulled over options of en-bloc resignations from the parliament, lockdown of the country, shutter-down strike and launching movement at the district level.
"We discussed all these proposals which the members of Rehbar Committee will take up with their top leadership," he said. Repeatedly pressed by media persons about moving towards D-Chowk, Akram Durrani said the decision should be left to Rehbar Committee.
The JUI-F leader said Rehbar Committee also warned the undemocratic forces to refrain from undertaking any extra-constitutional step while taking advantage of the present situation.
"Such step will be harmful to the country’s sovereignty," he said.
Akram Durrani pointed out it was the government, not the opposition, which was running away from agreement signed between Mufti Abdullah of the JUI-F and deputy commissioner Islamabad.
"The government created hurdles in way of peaceful processions coming from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and workers injured during the travel were refused treatment," Durrani said.
Meanwhile, a foreign news outlet, DW, reported that several leaders and activists of the JUI-F and ANP criticised the statement of the ISPR chief.