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Fazl gives Premier two days to step down

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Friday gave the final ultimatum to Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying his party would be forced to think of another strategy if the prime minister failed to “resign within two days”.

Addressing a massive gathering at the H-9 venue where the Azadi March culminated on Thursday, Maulana Fazl said it will come down to the voters to decide the next move for the Azadi March. He said the vote of the public was “stolen” hence it will be for the people to decide the strategy for the protest.

“We will not be able to exercise any patience after that point,” he said, calling upon the country’s “institutions” to remain impartial to avoid “conflict”.

He also criticised the government’s economic policies allegedly dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying the opposition cannot accept a “slave” economy imposed by the PTI government.

He claimed that the country’s current economic managers have been appointed by the IMF and the government is bent upon implementing a “western” economic system in the country.

Speaking at the rally, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari assured JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and the Azadi March protesters that the PPP will stand by them “every democratic step of the way” in their fight against the government. “I want to assure you on PPP’s behalf that we are with you and we will send this puppet prime minister home.” PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari says the people of Pakistan do not accept the “selected” and “puppet” government system in place in the country.

Bilawal called out the government for the alleged media blackout of opposition leaders at the Azadi March jalsa.

The PPP chairman accused the government of having committed the “economic murder” of the people. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan gives “pain” to the public but provides relief to the wealthy classes.

He said the government was putting burden on the common man because it wanted to continue to please the “selectors” that brought it into power. Our economy is not free, decisions being taken abroad, he said, adding that the budget implemented by the government is a “PTI-IMF budget”.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said that following the 2018 general election, “arrogant” Prime Minister Imran Khan had refused to collaborate with the opposition on a ‘charter of the economy’ floated by the opposition.

The National Assembly opposition leader, who joined the JUI-F’s Azadi March following the Friday prayer, reminded the premier: “You started this container politics, you said you will burn down parliament, you said things about me. I will not respond to you in your language.”

“Despite such blatant rigging, for the benefit of the nation, we said we were ready for a charter of economy,” he said, adding that the PM rejected the “offer with extreme pride and arrogance”. Questioning Imran Khan’s competence, the former Punjab chief minister called him a “goof” whose decisions were more dependent on “sorcery” and “supernatural guidance”.

“If God gives us the opportunity, we will put up a united front and work on fixing Pakistan’s economy. Imran Khan has a lot of support from all institutions – if we had the only 10pc of this support, we would have taken Pakistan on a Sputnik-like flight,” said Shehbaz.

“This protest will sweep away Imran Khan and his government,” he warned. “If Imran Niazi remains in power any longer, Pakistan’s situation will only further deteriorate. This sea of humans has made it clear that now is the time for change. We will rebuild Pakistan once again under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and our economy will be on its feet again within six months,” said Shehbaz. Addressing the protesters, Awani National Party (ANP) leader Mian Iftikhar and Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said the first and foremost demand of the Azadi March protesters was the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Bilour asked participants of the Azadi March gathering not to return to their homes until Prime Minister Imran Khan has tendered his resignation.

“To his (Imran Khan’s) selectors, I tell you that you have made the wrong selection,” said the senior ANP leader, alleging that the prime minister has ruined the country. The March led by the JUI-F, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and reelection, entered Islamabad last night. The sit-in would be attended by the opposition parties, including the PML-N, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP).

 

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