The ‘Azadi March’ dharna will continue until Pakistan is free of the present “illegitimate” government, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said on Monday, as the sit-in continues into its second week.
“We will continue our struggle till we are free from this illegitimate government,” said the cleric, adding plans were under consideration to further increase the pressure on the government. He said all opposition parties were being consulted on how best to proceed. The entire country stands with the participants of the Azadi March, he added.
According to daily Dawn, the JUIF chief has sought the opinion of his party’s provincial cadres to finalize the party’s ‘Plan B’ for the ongoing sit-in. Rehman reportedly told a meeting of party leaders to brief the central leadership on Tuesday (today) about their preparations for the much-discussed next step of the dharna, which aims to pressure the government by blocking major highways, trade links and shutter-down strikes nationwide. The daily also claimed that Rehman had decided that regardless of the ‘Plan B,’ the Islamabad dharna would continue.
The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, which has been supporting the JUIF throughout its Azadi March, meanwhile said the government was not taking negotiations with the opposition seriously. PkMAP leader Usman Kakar told journalists after a meeting with Rehman that government negotiators were not being sincere in their efforts to resolve the sit-in.
Separately, during an interview with broadcaster Geo News, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that his party would be willing to accept the “equivalent” of P.M. Khan’s resignation to end its protest. Without offering any more details, the JUIF chief said he did not need to “save face,” adding that it was the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan that had to find a way to maintain its dignity.
Rehman claimed during the interview that the ‘Azadi March’ dharna had rubbished the prevailing belief that you could not say anything against this government without risking reprisal. The impression that this country is operating only to the benefit of Imran Khan has ended, he added.