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Azadi March Against Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, Calling for his Resignation and for Early Elections

November 4, 2019


JUI-F activists listen to their leaders during the Azadi March on Monday. — AP
The Azadi March continues as sit-in protest in Islamabad seeking resignation of Imran Khan as Pakistan's prime minister and convening of early parliamentary election, November 3, 2019


Pakistan protesters extend deadline demanding Imran Khan’s resignation

France 24, AP, Reuters, 03/11/2019  

Cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman spurred tens of thousands of Islamists to protest over the weekend calling for Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign, but the deadline he imposed passed without event.

Tens of thousands of Islamists at a massive protest camp in Pakistan's capital awaited a Sunday deadline set by their leader calling for the prime minister to resign.

Authorities in Islamabad strengthened security around the camp as the protest entered its third day, including walls of shipping containers blocking roads leading into and out of the protest area, as well as deploying riot police and paramilitary forces.

Firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman had led a caravan of supporters to Islamabad last week in a bid to pressure Imran Khan to step down, calling him an "illegitimate" ruler.

He claims the 2018 election that brought Khan to power was rigged, and has implied - without naming names - that Pakistan's powerful army supported Khan. The military denies the allegations, saying it remains impartial.

Rehman, who heads the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, has agreed with authorities that the protesters will not leave the government-designated area.

But he has also hinted he could lead a march on the "Red Zone," the seat of Pakistan's government, to force Khan's resignation. The prime minister says he has no plans of quitting.

It's unclear what Rehman's next move will be once his deadline expires Sunday evening.

Negotiations to defuse the standoff were taking place between members of Khan's government and opposition lawmakers.

Authorities have said they won't try to stop the protests as long as they remain in the designated area, which stretches over a kilometer (mile) along a highway and into an open area.

Some protesters in the all-male encampment seemed prepared for a long stay, and had even begun turning the shipping containers into living spaces.

"I want the government to bring more of these containers, they're now serving as our little homes here, as the weather is getting colder every night," said Gul Aman, a protester from the western Baluchistan province. Others were seen cooking meals and washing clothes outside their tents Sunday.

Several thousand volunteers dressed in head-to-toe yellow uniforms have been handling security, according to protest organizers. Many supporters also carried the black and white striped flag of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party.

Rehman had attempted to ban female journalists from accessing the camp, but was forced to reverse his decision after sparking outrage on social media.

The hard-line cleric has campaigned for regressive legislation targeting women, and opposed legislation to eliminate of violence against women. He has also refused to allow women members of his party to participate in the demonstration.

The mass rally comes after Pakistani businesses observed a nationwide strike last week against recently enacted taxes, which the opposition says were imposed as part of the International Monetary Fund's $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan.

A report by the World Economic Forum released last month says Pakistan ranks 110th on the international organization's annual Global Competitiveness Index. The report said Pakistan's 2019 ranking dropped three places due to poor performance in key areas of press freedoms, governance, innovation, corruption, life expectancy, productivity and human development.



Pakistan Army vows to continue supporting national institutions 'as and when asked'

Dawn, November 24, 2019

The military leadership has expressed the resolve to continue to support national institutions "as and when asked" in accordance with its role as an organ of the state.

“We have attained better internal security and stability through cohesive national efforts and sacrifices rendered by Pakistan Armed Forces, all national institutions and above all, the nation. We shall not let it reverse to suit any vested agenda at any cost," an ISPR statement issued after today's Corps Commanders Conference said.

JUI-F MNAs turn resignations in to Fazlur Rehman

All JUI-F members of the National Assembly have submitted their resignations to party chief Fazlur Rehman, says Maulana Abdul Wasay of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal.

Wasay said he along with all other MNAs of JUI-F have turned resignations in to Rehman.

Sources told DawnNewsTV the resignations will remain with the JUI-F chief and will be used if required according to the party's strategy.

Scenes from JUI-F protest camp — day 4

JUI-F supporters camp along the roadside during an anti-government protest in Islamabad on Monday, Nov 4. — AP
JUI-F supporters camp along the roadside during an anti-government protest in Islamabad on Monday, Nov 4. — AP

JUI-F supporters have their meal along a roadside during the Azadi March in Islamabad. — AP
JUI-F supporters have their meal along a roadside during the Azadi March in Islamabad. — AP

JUI-F activists listen to their leaders during the Azadi March on Monday. — AP
JUI-F activists listen to their leaders during the Azadi March on Monday. — AP

Maulana's supporters are 'sweet, adorable, innocent', says Reham in video message

Former journalist Reham Khan shares yet another video in support of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his supporters, calling the latter "sweet, adorable, and innocent".

NA speaker calls on political parties to come together for a 'national dialogue'

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has called upon the leadership of political parties to agree to hold a "national dialogue" at the platform of the parliament to resolve the ongoing deadlock.

In a series of tweets, Qaiser said it is important for the political leadership to be on the same page to counter internal and external challenges and economic issues faced by the country "for which a national dialogue is the need of the hour".

"Parliament is the sole representative institution of the people and as the representative of people's wishes it is ready to play every role possible," the speaker wrote.

Noting that the superior judiciary and leaders of opposition parties too have previously suggested solving national issues through a parliamentary-level dialogue, Qaiser urged the country's political leadership to "cooperate" and present recommendations in this regard.

Will present suggestions from PML-N meeting to Rehbar Committee: Ahsan Iqbal

PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal says suggestions from the PML-N meeting will be presented before the opposition's Rehbar Committee so that the entire opposition can agree on a joint plan of action.

He said that from the joint opposition's platform, everyone's suggestions and consensus should determine the strategy to move forward in the struggle against the government. Iqbal added that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had given them written instructions to do so and it was also the party's decision.

Firdous advises Rehman to 'wait for four years'

Prime minister's aide Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan advises JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to "wait for four years", when the country's next general elections will be held.

In a series of tweets, Awan says: "Maulana sahib, it is up to Pakistan's public to decide [who] comes to power and who leaves. Wait for four years. Listen to your own speeches [delivered] in past assemblies for guidance."

In another tweet, the premier's adviser laments: "On one hand, a parliamentary meeting is being chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan for Pakistan's development, strengthening of democracy and the prosperity of the people. While on the other hand, plans are being hatched to [instigate] anarchy, mayhem and block the way of the public prosperity.

"The entire nation is watching what agenda and priorities [each side] have."

PML-N delegation arrives for APC

A PML-N delegation comprising Ayaz Sadiq and Dr Ibadullah has arrived for the All Parties Conference (APC) underway at JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman's residence.

All Parties Conference underway

An All Parties Conference (APC) is underway at the residence of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Opposition leaders arrive at Maulana Fazlur Rehman's residence for APC

Various members of the opposition have started to arrive at JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman's residence for an All Parties Conference (APC).

The leaders that have reached the JUI-F chief's residence are: JUI-F secretary general Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, National Party Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Shahi, Rehbar Committee member Shafiq Pasrori, Awami National Party general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain and the PPP delegation comprising Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Nayyar Bukhari and Farhatullah Babar.

'Ironic' that leadership of opposition 'handed by default' to Fazlur Rehman: Mazari

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari says it is "ironic" how the leadership of the opposition has been "handed by default" to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman by the PPP and PML-N.

In a tweet, Mazari said that the JUI-F chief is "a man who lost his own seat" and now stands on the container with Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Awami National Party central president Asfandyar Wali Khan, who she said, are also out of the National Assembly.

Govt negotiating committee press conference at 2pm

Federal Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak and other members of the government negotiating committee will hold a press conference at 2pm, according to a press release issued by the National Assembly Secretariat's media cell.

Meeting of senior PML-N leaders underway

A meeting of senior PML-N leaders is underway at PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif's Model Town residence.

Arriving for the meeting, Muhammad Zubair said that the party will discuss and decide on what to do next as they had only offered to provide support to the Azadi March till the jalsa.

He said that now a dharna is being staged, adding that he hopes that the situation can be resolved peacefully and both JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the government can come to an agreement.

Bilawal, Shehbaz will not participate in APC

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will not participate in an All Parties Conference (APC) being held at JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman's residence today, say party sources.

According to PML-N sources, Shehbaz is unable to attend due to back pain as well as other PML-N related engagements. Instead, party leaders Ayaz Sadiq and Dr Ibadullah will represent the party.

During the APC, the final consultations of the future strategy of the Azadi March will be held. The JUI-F chief will also be informed of decisions taken during a PML-N meeting today.

Additionally, PPP sources said that Bilawal will not participate in the APC either, adding that he is currently in Bahawalpur.

During the APC, the final consultations of the future strategy of the Azadi March will be held. The JUI-F chief will also be informed of decisions taken during a PML-N meeting today.

'Currently there is no alternative to Imran Khan,' says Fawad Chaudhry

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry says that Prime Minister Imran Khan is currently the only leader in Pakistan.

"Currently there is no alternative to Imran Khan [...] if there is no alternative tolerate [him]," Chaudhry said while speaking to media.

He said that some media persons say Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had also held a dharna and clarified that PTI's dharna was held after a year of going through courts and commissions and was staged for electoral reforms.

On the other hand, the federal minister said, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman doesn't even know the purpose of his dharna.

Azadi marchers camp out in Islamabad as sit-in continues


Participants rest during the ongoing 'Azadi March' in Islamabad on November 3, 2019. — AFP
Participants rest during the ongoing 'Azadi March' in Islamabad on November 3, 2019. — AFP

Opposition activists look on as they distribute food during the 'Azadi March' in Islamabad on November 3, 2019. — AFP
Opposition activists look on as they distribute food during the 'Azadi March' in Islamabad on November 3, 2019. — AFP

Opposition activists look on as they rest in a truck during the 'Azadi March' in Islamabad on November 3, 2019. — AFP
Opposition activists look on as they rest in a truck during the 'Azadi March' in Islamabad on November 3, 2019. — AFP

LHC to hear petition alleging JUI-F chief of 'challenging writ of the govt'

The Lahore High Court has accepted for hearing a petition demanding action against JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for "challenging the writ of government, delivering hate, provocative and seditious speeches against the state".

The appellant has also urged the court to order Pemra to direct "TV channels to not air the hate and provocative speeches" made by Rehman at the 'Azadi March' sit-in.

The petitioner calls Rehman a "man for all seasons" as the JUI-F chief has, in the past, "formed alliances with almost each and every political party before condemning and calling them anti-democratic parties just for the sake of ministries, and perk[s] and privileges".

Should Pakistan's business community worry about the 'Azadi March'?

"Although the JUI-F has so far decided to confine its protest to Islamabad, the prospects of yet another sit-in that could continue for weeks and even months is already giving the businessmen jitters. Many are expecting the JUI-F gathering to remain peaceful during their stay in the capital, yet some fear that the JUI-F crowd has every ingredient to turn violent if it continues indefinitely.

‘The long-term cost of the protests is much harder to quantify but the bigger concern is more to do with Pakistan’s image as a stable business environment’

"As it is too early to predict what shape the JUI-F’s anti-government campaign will ultimately take to achieve its goal, it is equally hard to tell how it is going to impact the country’s fragile economy in the medium to long run. But some immediate tangible and intangible consequences of this protest campaign for the economy have already begun emerging."

As 'Azadi' sit-in continues, Rehman looks to opposition leaders for future strategy

JUI-F Chairperson Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who has been abandoned by both PPP and PML-N in his Azadi March sit-in, told his supporters that he was trying to convene a meeting of all opposition heads in order to decide the future course of action.

When asked about Rehman's announcement, members of PPP and PML-N said that it was highly unlikely for party chiefs Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif to make it to Islamabad on such short notice.

Absence of drainage leads to water accumulation at protest site

The water directorate of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) has been supplying uninterrupted water to the participants of Azadi March through three tubewells and four tankers.

Water stands at the H-9 protest venue and the road adjacent to it. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad and Kashif Abbasi
Water stands at the H-9 protest venue and the road adjacent to it. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad and Kashif Abbasi

A significant quantity of water, however, is being wasted at the site.

"Since there is no drainage system, water flows on the road. But there is no serious wastage. In big gatherings such things happen," said Ilyas Khan, a protester.

Water stands at the H-9 protest venue and the road adjacent to it. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad and Kashif Abbasi
Water stands at the H-9 protest venue and the road adjacent to it. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad and Kashif Abbasi

Meanwhile, a senior officer of the water directorate said under the temporary arrangements the protesters were being provided water from more than one hundred taps. Since there is no drainage system, the used water flows on to the road.

PML-N, PPP appear reluctant to join Fazlur Rehman's next possible move

PML-N and PPP seem to be reluctant to join the next possible move of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who is currently leading a sit-in in Islamabad as both have entrusted their respective central bodies to come up with a 'well-thought out' decision.

Senior party leaders of the PML-N are meeting at the Model Town residence of party president Shehbaz Sharif today to discuss the national political scene and the multiparty conference JUI-F is going to hold on the sit-in issue, while PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari stated in Bahawalpur that only the CEC will take a decision on it.

"We are ready to give face-saving to Maulana sahib," says Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan at a late-night press conference along with Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri when asked if the government would facilitate the return of protesters from Islamabad.

The government apparently adopted the policy of carrot and stick; Dr Awan on one hand hailed the JUI-F chief’s decision, but on the other she criticised him for "challenging the writ of the state" and "tarnishing moderate and progressive face of the country by using a religious card and instigating students of seminaries against the government".

"The prime minister is determined to meet democratic demands of the opposition through dialogue process," she said, adding that PM Khan would chair a meeting of the parliamentary committee of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) today to decide what concessions could be offered to the opposition.

Govt welcomes Fazlur Rehman's decision to avoid marching towards D-Chowk

The federal government welcomes Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s decision to avoid marching towards D-Chowk in the sensitive Red Zone or surrounding Prime Minister House and expresses the desire to meet all demands of opposition parties, except the premier's resignation, through dialogue for the country’s betterment.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated that he would never give a National Reconciliation Ordinance-like concession to leaders of the opposition parties facing corruption cases.

'We have a Plan B and a Plan C': Maulana vows to continue anti-govt movement

The maulana says that the movement to oust the premier "will continue to move ahead and will never be on the back foot".

"We have a Plan B, a Plan C. This is only Plan A. Your jails will fall short of space."

Fazlur Rehman said to retreat is "equivalent to a major sin" at this point.

Maulana says will stick to path of peace

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while narrating a conversation with "a friend", says that he was recommended that he adopt a more forceful strategy to oust the premier.

"He has said we will attack his (Prime Minister Imran Khan's) house and arrest him. I address him (the friend) now: Try to understand. The determination with which we have come here, if we wish to advance, no one will be able to stop us. But we are peaceful people. We will do no such thing."

JUI-F chief warns against paying heed to 'tone set by media'

The JUI-F chief, while addressing the massive protest rally at Peshawar Mor in Islamabad, asked participants "not to pay heed to the tone set by the media".

"Trust your own self and trust your leadership. [...] The decisions made by your leadership in your favour will take you far in the future."

'Institutions have strayed far from the Constitution,' says Fazlur Rehman

Fazlur Rehman says institutions have strayed far from the boundaries laid out for them within the Constitution.

"Our army is becoming controversial. We cannot see it becoming so."

Rehman said that even the Supreme Court chief justice has pointed this out. "Every institution is crossing its boundaries and interferring where it shouldn't."

'ECP helpless, parliamentary committee yet to convene on rigging': Fazl

Maulana Fazlur Rehman while reiterating his party's stance that the incumbent government must be sent packing, points out that a year has passed but the parliamentary committee formed to investigate rigging during the 2018 elections had yet to convene.

"It has been one year, there has not been a single meeting and no rules and procedures have been set to probe rigging."

Rehman also criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan's helplessness in the matter. "They tell us to go to the ECP and file a complaint. ECP is even more helpless than we are."

"If it weren't helpless, this huge crowd would not have gathered here in Islamabad."

Govt decides to send in Chaudhry Shujaat to hold talks with opposition

The government's negotiation committee has decided to send in PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to hold talks with the opposition's Rehbar Committee.

The government committee is currently holding a session at Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani's residence, led by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak.

Asad Qaiser telephones Akram Durrani, recommends meeting

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser made contact with Akram Khan Durrani, the head of the opposition's Rehbar Committee and recommended that the two sides hold a meeting.

"We are politicians. Our doors are always open for negotiations," Durrani assured Qaiser.

Durrani also told the speaker that the opposition's demands are still the same and they stand by them.

'Two big opposition parties have accepted you as their leader,' Chaudhry Shujaat tells Fazlur Rehman

PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, in a telephonic conversation with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, has told him that "two big opposition parties have accepted you as their leader".

"Shehbaz Sharif is an accidental leader of the opposition. He has no role in this sit-in." — Hussain.

'Deadline' for PM's resignation extended; opposition to make final decision in APC

Maulana Fazlur Rehman has decided to give the government an extension in the previously set "two-day deadline" for the prime minister to resign, until a final decision by opposition members is taken during an All Parties Conference (APC).

A six-hour long consultative session today between JUI-F members ended without the formulation of a future strategy in the anti-government campaign. Rehman is awaiting the final decision by PPP and PML-N on the matter. The JUI-F members have left their own party's final decision to their chief.

The meeting concluded with the JUI-F chief tasking the opposition's Rehbar Committee head Akram Khan Durrani with convening an APC, the date and venue of which will be announced after contact is established with the various opposition parties.

Deliberations on whether the parties wish to proceed to D-Chowk or not and whether the sit-in should be continued will be held during the APC meeting.

Pervez Elahi contacts Fazlur Rehman, proposes meeting

Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has contacted JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and proposed that they meet.

Elahi expressed his desire for matters to be resolved amicably. Rehman indicated that he would consider after concluding his consultative session with party members.

Meanwhile, the government negotiation committee is waiting for Rehman's address at the protest rally to decide the next course of action by the government. "We are hopeful our pact will not be violated and that the maulana will not take any non-democratic measure," said the committee members.

3rd Nov, 5:16 PM

PM did not live up to food, container promise: JUI-F MNA

JUI-F MNA Salahuddin Ayubi, in a conversation with reporters, has said that the prime minister has failed to live up to the promise of providing food and containers to the participants of the anti-government protest.

"The media must ask the prime minister what he has planned. First he said he will provide us food and containers. Now there are no containers and no D-Chowk."

The MNA said that the prime minister should "have mercy on the nation" and resign. When asked how he plans on having the premier resign, Ayubi said: "We will take his resignation the way he took it."

3rd Nov, 4:41 PM

Security beefed up on paths leading to Red Zone: police

Security forces deployed at Islamabad's Zero Point and on paths leading to the Red Zone have been alerted to prepare for unrest, according to police.

The officers have all been provided tear gas canisters as well as other combat apparatus. Also, the number of police and FC personnel stationed along the aforementioned areas have been amplified, some of them arriving from other provinces.

Instructions have been issued to the personnel to ensure that the crowds do not move beyond the designated protest venue.

Director-General Rangers, Inspector-General of Police (Operations) and Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) also arrived to brief the personnel.

3rd Nov, 4:28 PM

Our demands are same but we are not participating in the sit-in, says Bilawal

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto strongly criticises the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government but categorically distances his party from any plan to march to D-Chowk or prolonging the sit-in.

"Our demands are same but we are not participating in the sit-in," he said while talking to reporters in Bahawalpur.

He dubbed the government as "illegitimate" and said that it was "selected and not elected".

3rd Nov, 4:20 PM

Police complaint filed against Fazlur Rehman in Mandi Bahauddin

A police complaint has been filed against JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the Model Police Station in Phalia tehsil of Mandi Bahauddin.

The complaint was filed under Section 124 (assaulting President, Governor, etc., with intention to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The woman complainant has requested that criminal proceedings be initiated against the JUI-F chief "for speaking out about arresting the prime minister".

"JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his associates are guilty of treason and of stirring unrest," says the woman's complaint.

3rd Nov, 4:12 PM

Fazlur Rehman to announce decisions at sit-in: spokesperson

Jamiat Ulma-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman's spokesperson says that whatever is decided in the ongoing meeting of the party's top brass, the party chief himself will announce at the sit-in.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is chairing a meeting of the party high ups. All the provincial chiefs of the party and other central leaders are attending the meeting.

3rd Nov, 3:36 PM

PPP will oppose D-Chowk plan, prolonged sit-in: Nayyar Bukhari

In a blow to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl's (JUI-F)'s Islamabad sit-in, the PPP makes it clear that the party will oppose confrontation or plan to prolong the sit-in.

PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari while talking to DawnNewsTV over telephone said, "Our viewpoint on sit-ins has been clear since day one and we are standing by our earlier position against sit-ins."

"If Maulana Fazlur Rehman proceeds to D-Chowk or decides to prolong the sit-in, we will oppose [the plan]," he said.

Talking about the party's future course of action, he said that the PPP's Central Executive Committee will decide to support or oppose, if Fazlur Rehman calls for a shutter-down strike or lockdown.

3rd Nov, 2:22 PM

Opposition leaders agitating for political future of their next generations: SAPM Awan

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan has said that the opposition leaders are protesting for the political future of their third generation, and not masses.

The SAPM tweeted, "Those clinging to the nation for decades are foreseeing a bleak future for their third generation."

"[Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief] Fazlur Rehman is in a dispute with the government not for poor people but for the sake of Asad Mahmood [his son]," she said.

"[Similarly] Zardari is in a dispute for [the future of] Bilawal, Nawaz Sharif for Maryam, Shahbaz for Hamza and Asfand Yar Wali for Aimal Wali."

3rd Nov, 2:14 PM

Asma Jahangir Legal aid cell expresses concern over exclusion of women from JUI-F march

The Asma Jahangir Legal aid cell (AGHS) says that while the JUI-F has a "legitimate demand [for] restoration of [the] Constitution [and] true democracy," by excluding half of the population "on [the] pretext of piety" the party's commitment to procedural democracy is called into question.

In a tweet, AGHS added: "Women do not need men [to be] their agents & piety must not [be] used [to] curb rights."

3rd Nov, 1:58 PM

In a slip of the tongue, JUI-F leader chants 'Go Nawaz' instead of 'Go Imran'

3rd Nov, 1:20 PM

Maulana Fazlur Rehman chairs meeting to decide strategy

A JUI-F meeting headed by party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is underway during which they are expected decide whether to march towards D-Chowk, sources say.

During the meeting, final consultations will take place on the strategy for after the deadline for Prime Minister Imran Khan's resignation passes. Consultations are also being held on a plan B.

Additionally, they will also look at PML-N and PPP's opposition to marching towards D-Chowk, the sources said.

The JUI-F chief is expected to make an important announcement in light of decisions taken during the meeting.

3rd Nov, 12:53 PM

JUI-F volunteers clean up Azadi March venue

3rd Nov, 12:46 PM

Hamid Mir asks marchers to 'soften their tone'

Senior journalist Hamid Mir has asked participants of the march to "soften their tone and worry about common enemies".

3rd Nov, 12:38 PM

READ: Azadi March conundrum

"What is in the public domain is that the maulana has assembled a huge enough crowd to warrant serious attention. Someone or the other will have to engage with him as committed cadres in tens of thousands are not going to disperse even by the use of force.

Anyone who wrote off the JUI-F chief as a politician and thought his career was over will now be discarding that script

"In fact, any use of force would be utterly foolish as it would exacerbate rather than defuse the crisis. For now at least, Maulana Fazlur Rehman seems to be bloody-minded and not willing to budge an inch.

At the same time, he is keeping his cards close to his chest including any strategy that has been planned in case he or other leaders central to the protest are arrested."

zadi March on evening of day 3 in Islamabad

3rd Nov, 11:39 AM

The failure of the 'halwa' march is the success of Pakistan: Fawad Chaudhry

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry says the failure of the "halwa march" is the success of Pakistan.

Chaudhry, via a tweet, added: "The segment carrying out this march is the one that opposed the creation of Pakistan."

"Their elders were Quaid-i-Azam [Mohammad Ali Jinnah's] opposition. Today they have become [Prime Minister] Imran Khan's opposition. The defeat of this segment is the key to the future of Pakistan and hopefully this matter is reaching towards its end."

3rd Nov, 10:38 AM

KP govt asked to deploy 5,000 additional police personnel to capital

Due to the prevailing uncertainty in the federal capital, the interior ministry has asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to provide 5,000 additional police personnel to the administration of Islam­abad Capital Territory.

Through an official communiqué on Saturday, the interior ministry asked the chief secretary of the province to approve provision of another 5,000 personnel of the KP police along with complete command structure and anti-riot gear to the administration of the federal territory.

Sources say the provincial government had already provided around 3,000 police personnel to the federal government for deployment in Islamabad.


Azadi March against Imran Khan: Pakistan opposition leader says protests won't stop

The Azadi March continues as sit-in protest in Islamabad seeking resignation of Imran Khan as Pakistan's prime minister and convening of early parliamentary election.

Hamza Ameer


November 4, 2019

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is getting a taste of his own medicine, courtesy Jamiat Ulema Islam - Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman. In 2014, Imran Khan, as Opposition leader in Pakistan, had led an Azadi March seeking ouster of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The march had built public opinion in Imran Khan's favour. Now, Fazal-ur-Rehman has led another Azadi March in Pakistan drawing thousands of people on to the streets.

The Azadi March continues as sit-in protest in Islamabad seeking resignation of Imran Khan as Pakistan's prime minister and convening of early parliamentary election.

Fazal-ur-Rehman gave a deadline of 48 hours for Imran Khan to resign saying if his demand was not met, his outfit would roll out its Plan-B. That deadline ended Sunday night.

The Jamiat has support of some other outfits, which are likely to hold a meeting to discuss future roadmap to put pressure on the Imran Khan government. The JUI-F leadership has made clear that it will not withdraw its demand nor will it end its sit-in protest in Islamabad.

"We are standing up for what's right. Retreat would be a cardinal sin and there's no going back. This is our Plan A, we also have a Plan B and Plan C", said Fazal-ur-Rehman.

"We will not leave until our demands are met. This flood of people will not stop here. We will shut down the entire country next," said Fazal.

As per plan B of the protest, the protest will be staged across the country. Major cities and highways will be blocked, which could bring the country to a halt.

The plan B also includes a possible forward movement towards D-chowk in Islamabad, located right outside the National Assembly of Pakistan, President House and Prime Minister House, which constitutes the barred 'Red Zone'.

"We are sitting here in H-9 sector because there is not enough space at D-Chowk. Even here in this open wide space, we have a problem in accommodating all the people. However, if we decide to march towards the Prime Minister's house, there is no force that would be able to stop us", said Fazal-ur-Rehman.

The Azadi March called by the JUI-F has support of opposition parties including Pakistan People Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) and Awami National Party (ANP),

However, the participation of PPP and PML-N has been meagre, raising doubts over their alliance. Both PPP and the PML-N are older democratic parties in Pakistan while the JUI-F is a religious hardline party. The two parties are said to be uncomfortable with the religious overtones of Fazal-ur-Rehman.

The joint opposition are expected to explore further options for sustaining the momentum of their protests against the Imran Khan government. The options include staging a blockade across the country with roads being blocked to all major cities. It also includes staging countrywide sit-in protests and moving ahead with a joint resignation by all political parties and forcing the parliament to be dissolved.

The ministers of the PTI government has criticised the JUI-F protest for demanding the prime minister's resignation. The government committee, assigned to negotiate with the joint opposition team called, "Rahbar committee", has maintained that there can be no talks on Imran Khan's resignation.

"There is no possibility of the prime minister's resignation. That is not even an option to discuss with the Rahbar committee. We can negotiate on other demands but no talks will be done on PM resignation," said Defense Minister Pervez Khattak.

A mammoth crowd has been sitting in Islamabad's H-9 sector for the past four days and vows to not leave the capital until Imran Khan resigns.


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