Protesters demand Imran Khan resign

Islamist party leader Maulana Rehman leads thousands to capital, gives PM two-day ultimatum

Updated - November 02, 2019 08:22 am IST

Published - November 01, 2019 09:56 pm IST - Lahore

Supporters of a Pakistani radical Islamist party 'Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam' offer prayers during an anti-government march, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. Thousands of members of a radical Islamist party have camped out in Pakistan's capital, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan over economic hardships. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Supporters of a Pakistani radical Islamist party 'Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam' offer prayers during an anti-government march, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. Thousands of members of a radical Islamist party have camped out in Pakistan's capital, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan over economic hardships. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Tens of thousands of protesters, led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, took out a march in Islamabad on Friday, demanding the resignation of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“You have two days, we cannot show more patience,” Mr. Rehman warned the Premier. If Mr. Khan doesn’t resign in two days, “he will not be able to stop people from entering the Prime Minister’s House”, he said.

“Nawaz Sharif had heard this, so had Asif Zardari. Now, they [establishment] should also hear what we are saying,” said Mr. Rehman in a pointed message to the establishment.

‘Stay here’

“Only the people of Pakistan have the right to rule over Pakistan; no institution has the right to impose itself over us,” said Mr. Rehman.

“Stay here my friends, do not move... they have to resign in two days, you the people will decide what your decision is. It was your vote that was snatched from you, so you have to decide about your vote.” He ended his speech by saying that all decisions will be taken through consensus.

Originally the plan was that the ‘Azadi March’ would start on October 27 and go to Islamabad on October 31, but the caravan got delayed and reached the capital on Friday.

Opposition leaders joined Mr. Rehman in the capital on Friday. Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif also addressed the rally.

Mr. Bhutto-Zardari questioned the role of the Army in the 2018 elections. He said that such things make the role of the institutions controversial. “This Army is not any political party’s, or Imran Khan’s. This is the people’s army — Pakistan’s Army. We want to keep our institutions uncontroversial and non-political.”

Opposition platform

He thanked Mr. Rehman for bringing all Opposition parties together on a platform. “We will send this Selected Prime Minister home.”

Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif criticised the government over its mismanagement of the economy. He said that after the ouster of the government and forming a new government, “we will put the country on the right track within six months.”

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a public rally in Gilgit-Baltistan where he took on the ‘Azadi March’, saying, “we will send food for the protesters but will not offer the Opposition any NRO,” referring to a deal.

Mr. Khan said Mr. Rehman’s march was being celebrated in India as if he was an Indian national. “See how happy the Indian media is by showing the Maulana, as if he is an Indian national and is coming to liberate India.” He called the Opposition corrupt and said they have come together to protect corruption.

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