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by Newsweek Pakistan
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JUIF chief says ‘Azadi March’ sit-in will assume shape of ‘Seerat Conference’ on Sunday, the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday announced that not only would the Azadi March sit-in in Islamabad continue till at least Sunday, but that it would mark the birth anniversary of Islam’s Prophet on that day.

Addressing his supporters on Wednesday evening amid a rising wind-chill in the federal capital, Rehman said the Azadi March would become a Seerat Conference to mark the birth anniversary of Islam’s Prophet on Sunday, Eid Milad-un-Nabi, which is the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi-ul-Awwal.

“[We] staged the anti-government sit-in to fulfill our national responsibility,” said Rehman. “Is it not our national duty to topple this government?” he asked to cheers from his supporters. He also hit out at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for its past dharnas, which were known for attracting celebrities and loud music. “It is not as if we are holding a mujra (dance) here every night. With the grace of Allah, there are respectable people here. They have not come here for debauchery. My decency does not permit me to repeat the scenes we all witnessed in Islamabad in past dharnas,” he added.

Rehman went on to criticize the PTI’s “empty promise” to provide jobs and housing to the youth. “They [government] say they cannot be expected to give people jobs. So did they then lie just to get votes? … This government, established under falsehoods, is not acceptable,” he said, adding the youth must take a decision here and now. “Can you accept this government?”

The JUIF chief also hit out at Pakistan’s economic situation, saying the country was undergoing a crisis. “If the next budget comes from these incompetent people, the economy will go bankrupt. That is why we have come here: To save the country,” he added.

Joined by senior lawyers, Rehman also issued a new demand on Wednesday, saying the government would have to withdraw a presidential reference against Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa. He said the reference, filed by the government over the judge allegedly failing to disclose assets in his wealth statement, was warning the judiciary that if they issued a verdict that went against the interests of the rulers, “they would be sent home through references.”

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