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Monday, April 15, 2024

Pakistan can no longer function under the present government, Maulana Fazlur Rehman

If Pakistan is to survive, these leaders must go. Pakistan can no longer function under the incumbent government, says Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday vowed to continue the fight against what he termed a “dictatorial” regime, saying that the party is determined to establish the supremacy of the law and Constitution in the country. The JUI-F leader said that national interests should be put before party interests. “If Pakistan is to survive, these leaders must go. Pakistan can no longer function under the incumbent government.”

Addressing a ceremony in Peshawar, the JUI-F leader said: “We have been fighting against dictatorial attitudes and will continue to fight against them.”

Criticizing the government for its ineffective policies regarding the Kashmir conflict, he said: “If Kashmiris are in dire straits even today what have we been doing for over seven decades for their rights? Yesterday, we were thinking about how to take Srinagar, and today we are thinking about how to save Muzaffarabad.”

Maulana meets PPP leadership

In the last month, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman visited Bilawal House to hold a meeting with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari for over one hour and a half. The meeting came as a ‘pleasant surprise’ for PPP workers and voters who saw Mr Zardari in his first political engagement after his release by the National Accountability Bureau on the high court orders in December 2019, ending speculation about his health mainly over social media.

Though there was no word or press release from the JUI-F about the meeting nor any of the side invited reporters for interaction after the sitting, a statement issued by the PPP suggested that the three leaders agreed on launching a joint struggle, revival of opposition activities and challenging the PTI government on different fronts, including proposed review of the 18th Amendment and formation of the National Finance Commission (NFC).

“Pakistan can no longer function  under PTI”

It is not for the first time that Maulana wants to get rid of the government. Back in 2018, after losing the election, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, President of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), threatened to disrupt the political process in the country if the results of General Elections 2018 were not declared “null and void”.

The MMA president chaired the MPC along with the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad. MPC rejected the General Election 2018 and demanded ‘free and fair’ re-election across the country. “The All Parties Conference has completely rejected the July 25, 2018 elections with consensus,” announced Rehman while addressing the media after the PML-N-hosted conference concluded. “We do not consider this election to be the mandate of the public,” said defeated MMA president.

However, he was not fully supported by other opposition political parties. For example, the PPP said that it does not reject the results completely rather it has questions about the electoral process.  Later on, the PPP Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his party rejects election results but, at the same time, the PPP was going to play a role of an exemplary opposition in the national assembly. Since the PPP managed to get a simple majority in Sindh and it was interested to form a government in the province. Hence, PPP could not afford to boycott the National Assembly.

Read More: Maulana Fazlur Rehman meets Shehbaz Sharif: What is its significance?

Then again in 2019, the JUI-F’s chief announced to topple the government if the premier and his cabinet do not step down. He also said that it was the last protest in Quetta and there was going to be freedom march in the months to come. He said: “This is our last long march and next will be our Freedom March in Islamabad if the PTI government does not resign in August. After holding 14 successful million marches across the country, today we have arrived in Quetta and this sea of people shows what the people of Pakistan want.”

After consultation with the opposition parties, to get rid of PTI, Maulana postponed his proposed Azadi March from August to October. Initially, it was 27th Oct which Pakistan celebrates every year as Kashmir Solidarity Day. After criticism from all walks of life, Maulana changed the date and announced to lead a march in Islamabad on 31st October.

Neither PPP nor PML-N supported the idea of dharna and urged Maulana to keep the gathering limited to a protest. After 13-days long Dharna in the federal capital, the JUI-F’s chief announced to call it off.

Read More: High Treason: Should Maulana Fazlur Rehman be tried under article 6?

Notably, Maulana is saying that Pakistan can no longer function under PTI, but Shehbaz is long known for his pro-establishment views in his party. There have been some reports suggesting his differences with Nawaz and Maryam over the nature of the party’s relationship with the country’s powerful establishment. It is yet to be seen whether Shehbaz will lead any anti-government campaign after Eid or not.