Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan in fresh wave of agitation

Supporters of Pakistani radical cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman listen to their leaders at a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday on Nov. 13, 2019. (AP)
Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan in fresh wave of agitation

  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for cross-country agitation
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to step down as thousands of protesters camped in Islamabad for two weeks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s anti-government protesters on Thursday blocked major roads and highways in different parts of the country in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign, demanding fresh elections in the country.
The demonstrators led by opposition leader and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, launched street agitation as part of their “Plan B” to topple the government after failing to push Khan out through a two-week long protest sit-in in Islamabad. 
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F secretary general, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, while addressing a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its picturesque northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a main connecting Sindh and Balochistan provinces.
The party’s Balochistan chapter further announced to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Firebrand religious cleric, Rahman, on Wednesday announced to call off his two-week long anti-government sit-in in Islamabad and told his party workers to spread their protest to other parts of the country.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators reached Islamabad on October 31 where they camped for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country over the allegations of electoral fraud last year and mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who enjoys support in religious circles across the country and has a representation in the country’s parliament. As for the closure of the roads, his party has yet to share a detailed plan as to when and where a road would be closed and how long would the new phase of the protest continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the masses against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration that came to power last year, promising ten million new jobs for the youth, five million low-cost houses and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
But the economy has nosedived with double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment due to the closure of industry, as the government signed a $6 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy … and Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, told media.


Pakistan arrests seven Qatari nationals for illegal hunting in Balochistan

Updated 7 min 43 sec ago

Pakistan arrests seven Qatari nationals for illegal hunting in Balochistan

  • The arrested Qatari nationals include four members of the royal family, officials say
  • One of the accused, arrested from Nushki district of southwestern Balochistan, was using an Iranian passport

KARACHI: Pakistani authorities have arrested seven Qatari nationals in Balochistan and constituted a case of illegal hunting against them, a wildlife official said on Tuesday.
The Qatari citizens, including four members of Qatar’s royal family, were arrested by levies at Galangoor check post in Nushki area of southwestern Balochistan province.
Deputy Commissioner of Nushki, Abdul Razzaq, said the Qatari citizens were traveling without a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) and had been shifted to district circuit house after the arrest.
“The wildlife officials took the foreigners into their custody as they were found in the hunting area without permission,” Niaz Khan Kakar, Deputy Conservator Forest and Wildlife, told Arab News, adding the Qataris were first spotted in a 4-star hotel in Quetta but they told authorities they had no plans to go for hunting.
“They were warned that hunting is not allowed without permission,” he said.
Kakar said the wildlife department kept a vigilant eye on the Qatari hunters sensing an illegal hunting attempt.
“The accused have been booked and investigations being launched. After submission of challan the court will decide their fate,” the official said.
According to official documents seen by Arab News, the accused include four members of the royal family including Abdullah Jassim M. A. Al. Thani, Ahmed Ali Kh. Al-Thani, Mohammad Mansoor M. J. Al-Thani and Khalid Ali Kh. A. Al-Thani. Other three are identified as Salim Hadban H S Alfasal, Salman Saed H A Al-Marri and Soaoud Jaberi, the later using Iranian passport for traveling to Pakistan.
Few months ago, the levies had arrested two Qatari nationals for illegal hunting in Chaghi district of the province.
In December 2017, the security forces had arrested 12 people, including four Qatari nationals, for illegal hunting in Nushki.
According to the wildlife department, the provincial government has fixed a fee of $100,000 for the hunting of 100 Houbara bustard whereas the hunter has to pay $10,000 for hunting one falcon. Currently, permission has been granted to 18 hunting parties from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar to hunt Houbara bustard and other birds in more than fifteen areas.
But only two out of 18 the hunting parties have submitted the required fees after which the license will be issued, said Secretary Forests and Wildlife Saeed Ahmed Jamali.