JUI-F says protest will be scaled up amid deadlock with government

Scores of protesters took to the streets of Islamabad on Nov. 2, 2019, as part of the ongoing Azadi March led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), seeking to topple Prime Minister Imran Khan's government. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Updated 08 November 2019

JUI-F says protest will be scaled up amid deadlock with government

  • Oposition parties set to announce their next protest strategy on Sunday
  • Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have staged a sit-in since October 31

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition party, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), on Friday said it would scale up its anti-government protest from next week if Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to step down or call fresh elections in the country.
“We have devised our future strategy to increase pressure on the government for the fulfillment of our demands,” Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, JUI-F information secretary, told Arab News.
He said that negotiations with the government had failed to break the impasse since “we are not ready to back down from our demands.”
“All opposition parties have agreed in principle to scale up the protest and announce their next strategy on Sunday,” he said. “The government won’t be able to survive our next phase of protest.”
Ahmad, however, did not share the nuts and bolts of his strategy, but hinted that it might entail closure of highways and motorways across the country. “We have a number of options ready and will exercise them one by one,” he said.
The JUI-F chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, has been leading tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in Islamabad, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh elections in the country. The demonstrators have been camping in the federal capital since October 31 to force the government to fulfill their demands.
Several rounds of negotiations between the government and opposition representatives have so far failed to result in an agreement. “The government committee has nothing to offer to make us call off our protest,” the JUI-F information secretary said.
On the other hand, the government said the resignation of the prime minister was “off the table,” but they were ready to address the opposition’s “genuine demands.”
The firebrand religious cleric, who is known for his support base in religious schools across the country, enjoys the support of at least eight other opposition parties as well in seeking the prime minister’s resignation and calling for fresh polls in the country.
In a noisy National Assembly session on Friday, Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, who is leading the government negotiations committee, urged the opposition parties “to come to the table” and help the government resolve their genuine grievances.
“Keep sitting [in the ongoing sit-in], but don’t harm the country,” Khattak said while expressing the government’s resolve to sort out all issues with the opposition through dialogue.
The government earlier also offered the opposition parties formation of a judicial commission to probe the alleged rigging in July 2018 general elections, but the JUI-F chief rejected the proposal.
“We reject every proposal for the formation of the commission,” Rehman said.

PML-N moves court to get unconditional travel nod for ailing Nawaz Sharif

Updated 1 min 29 sec ago

PML-N moves court to get unconditional travel nod for ailing Nawaz Sharif

  • Petition filed in Lahore High Court to remove Sharif’s name from the no-fly list
  • Government had earlier offered a one-time travel waiver to Sharif against Rs.7 bn surety bond to avail treatment abroad

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, Shahbaz Sharif, said on Thursday that a petition had been filed in the Lahore High Court to remove the name of his brother and ailing former premier Nawaz Sharif from the no-fly list. 

He said that Sharif, who was serving his sentence on corruption charges, had been granted bail on health grounds and that the government’s conditional approval for his travel abroad for medical treatment was a “terrible demand” with “no legal, constitutional or judicial basis.” 

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Shahbaz Sharif said that the government’s “intentional delay” could be life-threatening to the 69-year old thrice former premier.

The country’s law minister, Farogh Naseem, told a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday that a sub-committee looking into the issue had decided to allow the former prime minister to leave the country for medical treatment.

“However, this will be one-time permission that will be subject to the provision of indemnity bonds worth Rs7 billion rupee,” he told the media. “Sharif will be allowed to go anywhere in the world but will have to return in four weeks.”

Naseem said the permission was granted to fulfill the government’s obligation in view of the former prime minister’s “critical medical condition.”

Reacting to the conditional permission, Haq told Arab News that the government was admitting that Sharif was seriously ill but was also creating hurdles in his way to travel abroad for medical treatment.

“The court has granted him an eight-week bail,” he added, “but the government is reducing that to four weeks and imposing an irrational condition. It is highly condemnable and we strongly protest this decision.”

However, he added the decision to accept or reject the government’s offer “solely rested with Nawaz Sharif and his family.”