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We will shut down entire Pakistan, says cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Standoff continues: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, center, waving at his supporters in Islamabad on Sunday.

Standoff continues: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, center, waving at his supporters in Islamabad on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Maulana Fazlur Rehman says the protests will continue and that Imran Khan’s government should go.

As the two-day ultimatum he issued to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expired on Sunday night, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said the protesters will continue the sit-in until their goals are met.

“We have decided that we will not go to any tribunal or Election Commission or any court. The PTI’s (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) foreign funding case is still lying around with the Election Commission after five years. This ‘illegitimate’ ruler’s foreign funding case has not been decided, how will this Election Commission settle rigging cases?,” he said while addressing ‘Azadi March’ in the capital on Sunday.

“This is a movement. After this march, we will not stop our journey… Today, we have shut down Islamabad. Tomorrow we will shut down the entire country. Today, we have a huge rally here; tomorrow we will make the entire Pakistan a rally-ground,” he said.

“Whenever there is an election, there is interference... Our Army, which is respectable for us, needs to ensure that next time, it will have nothing to do with the elections of Pakistan. Such interferences have made our institution controversial. We have to go back to the supremacy of the Constitution.”

On Monday, Mr. Rehman convened an all-party conference (APC) in Islamabad to chart out their future strategy. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif did not attend the meeting. Mr. Bhutto-Zardari was at a PPP rally in south Punjab.

Talks with government

A government delegation led by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak also met members of the JUI-F in Islamabad. Mr. Khattak said he hoped something good would come out of it.

Mr. Rehman announced at the march that it has been decided by all Opposition parties that the protest will continue. “All rumours should be put to rest about divisions in the Opposition. They have told me that they will be by my side.”

He said the government delegation came with some conditions. “I told them that we will be the ones giving conditions, not you.” He also criticised Prime Minister Khan for thinking that Narendra Modi will resolve the Kashmir issue. “He [Imran Khan] thought Modi will be a blessing for him. He said Kashmir issue will be resolved if Modi wins elections. Modi was successful. Look at how he resolved Kashmir!”

Maulana added that the government will have to go. Referring to Mr. Khan, he said: “He was ‘selected’ earlier but he has now been rejected.”

In another development, the Lahore High Court on Monday granted bail to Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. She will not be allowed to travel abroad during her bail. The court asked Ms. Nawaz to surrender her passport.

Maryam Nawaz’s lawyer Azam Nazeer Tarar told The Hindu that the Lahore High Court has observed that the prosecution, which is the National Accountability Bureau in this case, has not been able to satisfy the court regarding the prima facie involvement of Ms. Nawaz in this case and therefore she is entitled to bail.

“Moreover, the Pakistani law also recognises women-accused to be dealt with leniently in matters of bail. But mainly bail has been granted on the merits of the case, observing that prosecution could not satisfy the conscience of the court that Maryam Nawaz was guilty of the offence and matter be decided by the trial court after recording the evidence,” says Mr. Tarar.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 6:05:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/we-will-shut-down-entire-pakistan-says-pakistan-protest-leader-maulana-fazlur-rehman/article29881688.ece

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