JUI-F formally seeks permission to hold ‘Azadi March’ in Islamabad’s red zone

ISLAMABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) has formally sought permission from the Islamabad administration to hold the much-debated “Azadi March” on October 27, at D-Chowk located in the federal capital’s red zone.

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JUI-F leader Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, through his counsel Kamran Murtaza, submitted an application on Tuesday to the chief commissioner Islamabad seeking permission to hold the march as well as security arrangements for the participants.

The application reads, “the JUI-F will be holding the Azadi March on October 27, 2019, at D-Chowk, Islamabad, exercising its democratic and Constitutional right under Articles 16 and 17 of the Constitution against the incumbent government.”

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman had announced one week ago that the party will begin its anti-government “Azadi March” on October 27.

“The current government is the result of a fake election and fake results,” said Rehman during a press conference last Thursday.

All opposition parties had rejected the July 25, 2018 elections and had called for fresh elections, said the JUI-F chief, adding, “in this regard, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) have carried out 15 ‘million marches’ in the country to raise awareness among the people.”

Rehman continued, “as a result of this illegal government and its incompetencies, the country’s economy has sunk […] traders have shut down businesses as a result of heavy taxation. The Muslims of Pakistan are in anguish over the state of religion in the country.”

A meeting between JUI-F members was held on October 3 in which it was decided that on October 27 — the day celebrated across the world by Kashmiris as Black Day — the party will express complete solidarity with them and with those demonstrations of solidarity, a march on Islamabad will begin, he said.

He said, “this will be an Azadi march. Groups of people from all over the country will embark on this journey which will culminate in Islamabad, where we will send the government packing.”

“We will gather at D-Chowk,” he said, adding, “We are not ones to disperse easily.”

The JUI-F chief rejected the impression that he was “going solo” and said that the party is “in touch with all the other parties and making decisions in consultation with them”.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), who along with the JUI-F had been holding near-daily meetings with each other to debate the anti-government action to be taken, have yet to indicate whether they will join the march on Oct 27 or not.

Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Shah today reiterated that he strongly believes that JUI-F chief Fazalur Rehman will not come to Islamabad for the “Azadi March” on October 27.

Shah said, “Fazalur Rehman is a big [politician], he remained in politics throughout his life, his father too was a politician. In my opinion, as I say, […] Maulana Sahib will not come, I do believe this because this is [politically] suicidal.”

The Indian forces had annexed occupied Kashmir on October 27, 1947, and now “the JUI-F wants to hold a sit-in on the same date, reflecting that they are coming to annex Islamabad? At that time [1947] it was Nehru, they [the JUI-F leadership] would not like to join those ranks,” added the minister.

He further added,”I am hopeful that, God willing, they will not hold the sit-in.”

When asked if the government would show some flexibility in case the JUI-F wants to hold talks, the minister said that the government will definitely show flexibility. There is not a single point in the demands of the JUI-F of which the government has not taken cognizance, he said.

He asserted, “no syllabus is being changed, no restrictions are being imposed against seminaries — in fact seminaries are being improved.”

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