ISLAMABAD: The JUI-F chief, Fazlur Rehman, has demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘selected’ government must step down, paving the way for fresh elections.
“This is an illegal government and it should step down immediately. Fresh polls should be announced by dissolving the assembly,” said Fazl while talking to foreign journalists here on Tuesday. “We are launching a peaceful movement that will continue till the ouster of this government,” he said. The JUI-F-sponsored Azadi March is scheduled to begin on October 27 from different cities across Pakistan and enter Islamabad on October 31. “We are sure of entering Islamabad with at least one million protesters,” said Fazl. Fazl said if they managed toreach Islamabad, their action plan would be different and if they were prevented from doing so, they would take a different direction and in that case the march will take the form of ‘fill the jails’ movement.
The JUI-F chief said his party’s move against the government will be within the constitutional limits. “We are neither staging any sit-in to oust the government nor going to lock down the cities,” he said, adding: “We will keep changing our strategy to achieve our goal.” He asked the country’s institutions to remain non-partisan adding that no state institution should ever blindly lend its support to the government. “We do not wish to clash with institutions, which is why we call upon them to reject the notion that the government has their backing,” he added.
Fazl claimed to have won the support of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to oust the PTI government. “All opposition parties are on the same page since we all agree that the last year’s elections were heavily rigged [in favor of the ruling party],” he said. “We are in touch with all relevant institutions and people from all walks of life to make our protest a success.” Lambasting the government for its performance, he said the economy had nosedived and inflation has broken all previous records in just one year. “Modern states keep their sovereignty intact through peace and strong economy, but the PTI government has put all of this at stake,” he said. “Unemployment has increased manifold in the last one year due to poor economic policies, causing significant disappointment among people,” he said while referring to the IMF’s recent reports on Pakistan.
The JUI-F has a large network of religious seminaries across the country which is considered the party’s major support base. The government has been accusing the JUI-F leadership of planning to use young seminary students as “fodder” for its forthcoming protest. “We have issued no instructions to madrassa students to participate in Azadi march,” Fazl clarified while calling it “mere propaganda” of the government.