Desires to see institutions stable but impartial; Shahbaz says Azadi March first step to dislodge govt; People are being murdered economically: Bilawal
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, addressing the joint opposition’s Azadi March, has set a two-day deadline for Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
Opposition leaders are staging a show of power in the federal capital as their anti-government movement entered a decisive phase on Friday.
Along with Fazl, leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, Pakistan People’s Party, and Awami National Party addressed the marchers encamped at the designated venue in Sector H-9.
“I give this government two days to resign… we want state institutions to be impartial and withdraw their support to this illegitimate government,” said the JUI-F chief.
“I want to speak to the institutions that we desire to see them stable and powerful but also impartial. “If we feel that the institutions continue to protect these incompetent and illegal rulers, then we’ll be free to form an opinion about that institution.”
“We want the institutions of the country to remain strong. We don’t want to clash with them. But we also want these institutions to remain neutral,” he added.
He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has no right to rule the country as it came into power through ‘systematic rigging’ in the 2018 general elections.
“We reject the results of rigged elections. This prime minister should resign,” he said. Strongly criticising the government’s policies, the JUI-F chief said the economy has been destroyed due to their incompetence. “People are committing suicide and have been forced to sell their children … we won’t let them to further destroy the country.
Fazl said that the people of Pakistan had given their verdict and it was that the government had to go. “The general elections were a sham and fraud,” he said. “This government has to go. We cannot give it further time,” he added.
Fazl said that his followers were peaceful otherwise these people had the capability to ‘arrest’ the prime minister of Pakistan.
Fazl lashed out at Prime Minister Imran for linking his march to India.
“On the one hand, you are about to sign an agreement with India for Kartarpur and on the other you’re making accusations against me,” he said.
Fazl said that the prime minister had promised that his government would improve the economy to the extent that people from overseas would seek jobs in the country.
“Only two people have sought employment in Pakistan from abroad—the FBR chairman and the State Bank governor,” he said. “They promised five million houses and 10 million jobs, but only the State Bank governor and FBR chairman came to Pakistan for job and they were sent by IMF.
“We refuse to accept the western economic system. We want Islamic economic system.” Fazl said that the rulers could not be allowed to further play with the people of Pakistan. “Youngsters in this country are committing suicides. Rickshaw drivers are setting fire to their rickshaws,” he said.
Fazl said that the economy of the country had been destroyed and unemployment was on the rise. The JUI-F chief lashed out at the government for alleging that he was using the religion card to instigate the masses. “Who are you to deny me the right when our constitution talks about religion,” he asked. “Who are you to deny me my rights that are enshrined in the constitution?”
Commenting on the Kashmir issue, he said the PTI government has caused severe damages to the Kashmir cause. “We will fight for the rights of Kashmiris,” he vowed. “On one hand our relations with India are strained due to Kashmir conflict and on the other we are opening Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims.”
Meanwhile, in his address, Shahbaz Sharif said the Azadi March was the first step in the opposition’s movement to dislodge the federal government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He criticised the government for its anti-poor policies and attitude and questioned the government’s decision-making process of Imran Khan’s.
The PML-N president denounced PM Imran as a “brainless” leader and said the premier’s decisions were more dependent on “sorcery” and “supernatural guidance”.
“If God gives us the opportunity, we will put up a united front and work on fixing Pakistan’s economy. Imran Khan has a lot of support from all institutions – if we had only 10% of this support, we would have taken Pakistan on a Sputnik-like flight,” said Shahbaz. “This protest will sweep away Imran Khan and his government.
Responding to PM Imran’s criticism, the PML-N president reminded the premier that it was the PTI that set a precedent for such protests. “If Imran Niazi remains in power any longer, Pakistan’s situation will only further deteriorate. This sea of humans has made it clear that now is the time for change. We will rebuild Pakistan once again under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and our economy will be on its feet again within six months,” said Shahbaz.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the opposition’s show of power had clearly conveyed to PM Imran and his government that their time was up.
“This is a selected government and its policies have proven that public welfare has never been a consideration for them. The people of Pakistan have never and will never accept this government,” he said. The PPP leader criticised the government’s economic performance and said the masses had been burdened more than at any point in Pakistan’s history.
Bilawal said the country’s economy was dependent on outside influences and cited the “PTI-IMF budget” as an example.
Questioning the legitimacy of the present democratic set-up, Bilawal said the people of Pakistan were in favour of the constitutional and democratic systems of the past.
The PPP leader also lashed out at the alleged media blackout of the Azadi March and vowed that his party would support all democratic efforts for the removal of the “puppet prime minister”.
The protest is the first concerted opposition challenge that PM Imran Khan has faced since he won a general election last year promising to end corruption and create jobs for the poor.
Standing atop the container with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other leaders of the party, Bilawal lashed out at the government and said that Pakistan’s people only believe in democracy. Bilawal said that even after 70 years, transparent elections cannot be held in Pakistan.
The PPP chairman said that ‘economic murder’ of the people was being carried out by this government. “Even during the Musharraf era we never witnessed such rigging,” he said.”Our polling agents were kicked out of the polling stations.”