Sunday, October 27, 2019
Pakistan People''s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari attended a Diwali event at a Gurdwara in Sindh''s Kashmor district, here on Sunday.
According to a report in Pakistani media, Bilawal reached the Gurdwara Saheb Singh Sabha, here, with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
Gurdwara head Sardar Mahesh Singh welcomed the PPP chairman and presented him ''saropas'' and souvenirs.
In his address, Bilawal said he had come to present the Diwali greetings to the Hindu and Sikh communities of Pakistan. The PPP favoured equal rights for every citizen, he added.
"I thank the minority community for giving me the opportunity to celebrate Diwali at the Gurudwara", he remarked.
#AzadiMarch #AzadiMarchAgainstPTIMafia #AzadiMarch4CivilSupremacy - Opp sets out on march towards Islamabad
Fazl says Opp has denied all govt demands, will hold a sit-in as per decisions made by the judiciary
–PPP, ANP, and PML-N leaders join Azadi marchers, say no option but to send Imran home
–Protesters express solidarity with Kashmiri people, denounce India for rights violations
KARACHI: The anti-government march led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday kicked off its journey from Karachi towards Islamabad, where it will stage a sit-in to protest the alleged rigging in last year general elections that saw the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rise to power.
The protest, dubbed as Azadi March, has been joined by the major opposition parties, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), seminaries students and others.
Besides JUI-F leadership, PPP leaders Raza Rabbani, Saeed Ghani, PML-N leaders Mohammad Zubair, Nihal Hashmi, Awami National Party (ANP) leader Shahi Syed and others, are on board the leading container.
The next stopover of the march will be Jamshoro. The march is scheduled to reach Islamabad via Sukkur and various districts of Punjab.
Fazl was initially to march on Islamabad on Oct 27, but the protest date was later changed to Oct 31 owing to the Kashmir black day.
Addressing the participants of the march, Fazl said, “We had promised to our Kashmiri brethren that we will observe a day to express solidarity with them.”
“The entire nation is on the same page on the issue of Kashmir,” he said, adding that there has been a curfew in Kashmir for the past three months. He demanded the international community take notice of human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.
Addressing the participants, he stuck to the demand of PM Imran Khan’s resignation, saying: “Hundreds of thousands have gathered in Karachi; what will the government do when people from across the country reach Islamabad?”
Imran will have to go home, he asserted.
He also commented on the dialogue held between a government-led delegation on Saturday, saying the opposition had denied all demands of the negotiation team sent by the government and will hold their sit-in as per the decisions made by the judiciary.
He also took the powers that be to the task for cancellation of the national identity card of JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah, saying they installed a green card holder as the caretaker prime minister in 1993. “But, now they question our citizenship and declare us Pashtun and Afghans,” he added.
He said the opposition parties oppose such “flawed laws” as it believes in “democracy and the constitution and wants the sovereignty of the country”.
“I will announce the future course of action in Islamabad,” he said, referring to the sit-in on Oct 31 in the federal capital.
“We support positive politics. We have spent our entire life in loyalty to the country’s Constitution and we have faced extremism (in return),” he said, adding that the government will have to answer for the tactics it has been employing against the opposition.
He thanked the political leaders for participating in the march.
Addressing the crowd, ANP’s Shahi Syed said the “incompetent [PTI] government” must be thrown out to save Pakistan.
Zubair, the former governor of Sindh, said that the entire country is united against the Indian atrocities in Kashmir.
“Nawaz Sharif has instructed his workers and supporters to welcome Maulana Fazlur Rehman in every city and town of the country and become part of his Azadi March,” he said, adding that every PML-N worker will support Fazl.
PPP leader Raza Rabbani said that Kashmir’s jails are full and youngsters are being tortured but remember that movements for the right to self determination couldn’t be suppressed anywhere in the world.
The sad thing is that the Muslim community is silent on the atrocities being committed in Kashmir, he said, demanding that the community raise its voice for the Kashmiri people and support them.
“We speak about freedom in Kashmir but when I look at my own country, my heart weeps tears of blood, said Rabbani, adding that this is because he sees innocent children and women on the roads whose fathers or husbands or brothers or children have been missing for years.”
Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of opposition parties left Quetta to participate in the march. JUI-F Balochistan chief Maulana Abdul Wasey led the caravan.
“We will continue our struggle till removal of present rulers,” Maulana Wasey told reporters before leaving for Islamabad.
Pakistani PM Khan faces a tough political challenge as an anti-government march to topple his government set off on Sunday. Khan's woes have been aggravated by a deteriorating economy and accusations of bad governance.
Thousands of supporters of a major religious political party gathered Sunday in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi to start an anti-government march on the capital, Islamabad.
The rally was led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a powerful religious figure and head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party, who claims that Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power last year through rigged elections.
"Prime Minister Imran Khan will have to resign. Hundreds of thousands have gathered in Karachi; what will the government do when people from across the country reach Islamabad?" he told rally participants in Karachi.
Rehman is backed by Pakistan's major opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and the Pakistan People's Party headed by former president Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
The rally participants — expected to be in hundreds of thousands by the time they reach Islamabad — plan to stage a sit-in protest outside the capital, with a possibility of further rallying toward the prime minister house.
"I will announce the future course of action in Islamabad," Rehman said in Karachi.
Such "long marches" have become a common occurrence in Pakistan, with some religious organizations previously attempting to put the capital under siege and resorting to violence.
Although a religious leader, Rehman is a supporter of parliamentary democracy and has served under previous governments.
Khan's 'closeness' to military generals
Mufti Abrar Ahmed, a spokesman for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, said Sunday that Rehman would lead the protesters' caravan. He lashed out against Khan, saying that the "illegitimate" government came to power through the army's support.
Although the major political parties denounced last year's general election as "rigged," they chose not to immediately launch protests. But Khan's heavy-handedness against opposition politicians and the country's deteriorating economy have given them the impetus to finally attempt to dislodge his government.
Khan has been accused of receiving indirect support from the country's powerful military — a claim denied by both Khan and the army. Sharif's supporters say their party was not given a level playing field in the run-up to the July 2018 elections, with the judiciary exclusively targeting PML-N officials and the caretaker government unleashing a massive crackdown on PML-N activists.
Talking to local journalists earlier this week, Khan said the army fully backs him against the opposition's attempts to oust him.
Khan came to power after winning a simple majority in the 2018 parliamentary polls on promises to improve the country's economy and provide jobs. But his critics say he has so far not been able to honor his commitment to the masses.
Although Khan launched an austerity drive to reduce government expenses, critics say the move has been largely superficial, as the PM's team has no real economic plan to fix Pakistan's serious structural issues.
With inflation climbing to 8%, the rupee losing a third of its value over the past year, and foreign exchange reserves barely enough to cover two months of imports, Khan's government was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May for a bailout package.
The IMF's tough bailout conditions have been unpopular, and analysts say the opposition is now ready to use the "public anger" to remove Khan from power.
Maulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro, a JUI-F official, recently said that a World Economic Forum report found a 3% increase in corruption since Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party came to power.
"The economy has nosedived, prices of essential commodities are touching new heights and people are living in abject poverty. So it is necessary to send him [Prime Minister Khan] packing," Soomro told local media.