Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: Stage almost looks set for the first political show and belligerent threat against Imran Khan Government as main opposition party PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and other potential political outfits have extended full support to Maulana Fazlur Rehman for his ‘Azadi March’ that will start from October 28.
Realising the obstinate attitude of Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman to launch ‘Azad March’ from October 28, the Federal Government has started taking necessary precautionary measure while provincial governments have also been given clear instructions to take firm steps to maintain the law & order situation.
The political circles are considering ‘Azadi March’ as first potential political resistance against Imran Government and PM Imran Khan himself thinking it as impending challenge to his set-up being termed by all opposition parties as a ‘selected set-up’ directly hinting towards the Army. Official sources said that Maulana Fazl would not be allowed to enter the federal capital and could be arrested in Punjab or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The extra-ordinary move in the saga is involvement of Saudi ambassador who reportedly called Maulana Fazlur Rehman to his office in Islamabad on Thursday and discussed the issue in detail. Despite being an internal issue, Saudi envoy Admiral (retd) Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki is playing a reconciliatory role at the behest of his government.
The publicity of ‘Azadi March’ is going on for the last one month and the Saudi envoy was reportedly in the middle of reconciliatory efforts. It is learnt that Nawaf bin Said returned from Riyadh on Monday (October 7) and was likely to return to the Kingdom on Friday for submitting the situation report and consultations with his leadership.
Also Imran Khan went to Riyadh on Sunday and discussed various issues including Saudi-Iran conflict, Kashmir issue and Maulana Fazal’s plan.
According to reports from Islamabad, the leaves of all police officials have been cancelled to ensure the availability of enough personnel for security and traffic arrangements during the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) upcoming Azadi March in the capital on October 31. Fazlur Rehman has announced that the participants of rally will enter Islamabad on Oct 31.
Fazl-ur-Rehman, in a media talk, said that although the march will start on Oct 27 but it would be a show of solidarity with Kashmiri people, it will take three to four days for workers from far-off areas to arrive in the federal capital.
Meanwhile, in an interesting development, the supporters of JUI-F have uploaded video clips of a parade where Maulana Fazlur Rehman is taking salute from his party’s ‘Baton Brigade’. This ‘march past’ was organised at the workers convention in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa and two senior party office bearers Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri and Akram Durrani are seen standing next to Fazal.
The members of ‘Danda Bardar Dasta’ (Baton Brigade) are seen passing through the dais chanting Qura’nic verses ‘Allah Hoo’. The uploading of clips means to show the strength of the party. The ‘Baton Brigade’ is stated to be in front of ‘Azadi March’ in order to give protection to participants. JUI workers would be armed during the march and they are gathering batons and other harmful things for their demonstration.
Addressing the workers, Fazalur Rehman said that the ‘Azadi March’ is the beginning of downfall of Imran Government, it is a selected set-up and the selectors very well know our power. “No power on earth can stop entering Islamabad on October 31”, he announced.
Nawaz Sharif’s letter
A handwritten confidential letter in Urdu from incarcerated former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was handed over to Maulana Fazlur Rehman, JUI (F) leader today (Sunday) that has assured the full support for his ‘Azad March’.
Apart from ‘March’, other national issues had also been mentioned in the letter and Nawaz has sought help from Fazal. He considers Fazal and his party as a ray of hope for him to come out from prison.
Nawaz Sharif has also instructed to his party leaders and workers to “ensure that the anti-government protest (Azadi March) is a success”. The letter, dated October 10, is addressed to his brother, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, and its contents were discussed with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday.
“Azadi March” is deemed first practical resistance against Imran Khan’s government and Nawaz Sharif does not want any such attempt go in waste but his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif who is also the head of PML-N is reluctant to join hands with Fazal.
Nawaz had announced two days ago that he had written a letter to Shahbaz detailing the future course of action of the party, and had expressed hope that the PML-N president would brief the media on it.
Nawaz in his letter reiterated his support to the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for his march on Islamabad. “This is the time to stand up,” he wrote. “This is the time to set aside all convenience and fight for our rights. When the country’s honour, its self respect is at stake, we must stand up and defend our rights,” read the letter which is in Urdu and spread on several pages.
Nawaz has asked Fazal, who has called on all parties to join him in the march, to release a “comprehensive programme” regarding the march. The former premier said that he “gave a lot of thought” to Rehman’s proposals.
The letter was handed over to Fazal by PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal. In a press conference following the meeting, Ahsan Iqbal said that a party delegation had called on Fazal and put forth the PML-N’s recommendations for the march.
“Nawaz Sharif has said that Maulana sahib’s call for a protest post-elections was the right decision,” said Iqbal, adding, “We support his ‘Azadi March’.” Iqbal called on all opposition parties to participate in the march.
Fazal, while addressing the press conference, said that he is grateful to the PML-N for extending its support to his call for a march. “PML-N, PPP, Awami National Party, Qaumi Watan Party and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal are all with us,” he declared.
He said that an ‘Azadi March committee’ oversees all march-related matters on a daily basis and that a session of the party’s central executive committee will be held on October 24 after which the final agenda for the march will be announced. “There is still time. The government should resign and go home,” said Fazal. “If they don’t voluntarily do so, we will be forced to send them home.”