Protest called off

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THE opposition’s Rahbar Committee on Tuesday called off the road blockades and anti-government sit-ins being held in parts of the country in order to “not cause inconvenience to the public”. Addressing a news conference after an hour-long meeting of the Committee, JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani directed workers to open all blocked roads, adding that the Opposition would now organize joint public meetings and rallies at district level to mobilize public opinion against the Government.
This brings to a peaceful end of the anti-Government campaign launched by JUI(F), under which Azadi March and sit-in at the Federal Capital were held in the first phase and as per Plan-B Party workers have been blocking major highways and road links by staging sit-ins across the country since last week. It is appreciable that the agitators have realized the difficulties being faced by travellers and commuters as well as problems of the people due to disruption of supplies to different parts of the country. Though the Plan-B, aimed at blocking highways and major roads, was not much effective but its continuation would have compounded miseries of the people due to mobility factor. JUI(F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman claims the objectives of the protest have been achieved but there is no information in the public domain as to what actually he got. As the announcement for termination of the Plan-B came on the day Mian Nawaz Sharif left the country for medical treatment abroad, some circles claim that one of the objectives was to put pressure on the Government to provide relief to him. It is also likely that Fazl had to change his mind because of unwillingness of major opposition parties of PML(N) and PPP to march into the Red Zone of the capital as well as their non-participation in the phase two of the protest. However, the declaration of the Opposition to continue protest in different modes – rallies, processions and public meetings – indicates the opposition parties would continue to build pressure on the government. Rallies and public meetings are part and parcel of the democratic activities and one hopes the opposition, instead of indulging into blame game, make real issues of the country as topics of discussion like rising economic conditions, inflation, corruption, unemployment, growing street crimes and foreign policy issues.