Thousands of supporters of an ultra-religious political party [Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-JUI] led by a firebrand cleric, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman, took part Sunday in a procession seeking resignation of the Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan. The procession left for Islamabad.
“A caravan of hundreds of buses and vans that originated in the southern coastal city of Karachi will make its first overnight stop in Sakhar in Sindh Province,” said JUI spokesman Mufti Abrar Ahmed.
Besides pressing the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) goverment of Imran Khan and seeking his resignation the massive procession is also aimed at demonstrating solidarity with Kashmiri residents facing hardship at the hands of Indian troops. Fazl is a former chairman of Pakistan’s Committee for Kashmir.
Maulana Fazl chose Kashmir Black Day to set off the JUI protest. This day marks the anniversary of the start of the conflict over Kashmir, a bone of contention, and a region both India and Pakistan claim. Fazl said the long march is also meant to call for the ouster of Pakistan’s “illegitimate” government.
“This government has been imposed on the nation by “stealing the people’s vote,” the Maulana said.
Before starting off the Azadi March (Freedom March) Maulana Fazl convened an all parties conference to garner their full support.
The march bagged support from main opposition parties like Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of former premier Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) of former president Asif Zaradri and Awami National Party (ANP) of Asfandyar Wali Khan, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) of Mahmood Khan Achakzai.
Mufti Abrar said activists from Karachi and surrounding areas were expected to reach Islamabad on Oct. 31 to protest Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “illegitimate” government.
JUl alleged Khan came to power through the army’s support.
Khan’s government arrested JUI leader for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mufti Kafayatullah just before the start of the march. Mufti Kifayatullah was taken into custody for 30 days under Section 3MPO [Maintenance of Public Order–power to arrest and detain suspected persons of creating disturbances). He was arrested in Islamabad and shifted to Haripur jail.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the government is ready to tackle the march.