Maulana Fazlur Rehman announces intent to block major roads nationwide in bid to ramp up pressure on PTI-led government
Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday ended the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF)’s Islamabad sit-in after 13 days, announcing instead the launch of the protest’s ‘Plan B,’ which calls for blocking major roads nationwide to pressure P.M. Imran Khan to resign from office.
“We will not protest within cities, as this would trouble the common man. [Instead] we will stage sit-ins on main roads and highways,” the JUIF chief told a crowd of thousands that have been camped out in the federal capital at his behest. He added that these sit-ins would be peaceful and urged his supporters to avoid any untoward actions.
Rehman’s decision to launch his ‘Plan B’ comes after the government and the opposition failed to arrive upon any agreement to peacefully end the protest. Both sides reached deadlock with Rehman saying he would not accept anything less than P.M. Imran Khan’s resignation, while the government maintained that it was willing to negotiate on all matters except Khan’s exit from office.
On Wednesday evening, the JUIF chief said his party had decided to ramp up pressure on the government through its latest plans as “illegitimate rule is not acceptable to us.” He said the protesters did not want any confrontations with state institutions, but warned authorities that if they stopped them at one point, they would converge upon another.
Rehman said the Azadi March’s main objective to end the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s rule and demand fresh elections had not been altered. “The government believed the end of the Islamabad dharna would ease its worries,” he said. “But… we will shake them in every district of every province.”
Following Rehman’s speech, his supporters wrapped up their sit-in in the federal capital, with many leaving the campground to return to their native regions, and others preparing to participate in the ‘Plan B’ protests.
JUIF leaders have already announced their initial plans for road blockades. Rehman’s brother, senior JUIF leader Maulana Attaur Rehman, said protesters had been asked to commence the closures from 2 p.m.
Under the plans, the following roads will likely be blocked, with an emphasis on closing the road links between the provinces:
- GT Road between Peshawar and Rawalpindi
- Sindh’s National Highway
- Quetta-Chaman Road in Balochistan
- Silk Road in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
- Hub River Road in Karachi
- Road connecting Karachi to Balochistan will be blocked at Khuzadar
- Punjab-Balochistan Road link will be shut at Dera Ghazi Khan
- Road connecting Punjab with Sindh at Kot Sabzal in Rahim Yar Khan
- Road linkages between Rawalpindi and Islamabad
- Multan-Sukkur Motorway will be blocked at Sukkur