ISLAMABAD - Apart from taking support of major opposition parties (PML-N and PPP-P), JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has started approaching religious parties of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) to inviting them to join him in the upcoming ‘Azadi March’.

Fazl, a couple of days before, had formally announced to start his long march on October 27, with the aim to oust the incumbent government. The possible long march against the government will start its journey on October 27 (Sunday) from different areas and will culminate in the federal capital, where the party plans to hold a sit-in.

The JUI-F chief is these days appearing on electronic media holding parleys with PML-N and PPP-P about his long march plan.

Both the major political parties have so far not given a clear nod to fully participate in the long march-cum-sit-in plan.

Background discussions with the parties revealed that JUI-F has also started convincing main religious political parties of MMA to join the anti-government move.

JUI-F chief says protest will ‘end only when government falls’

Talking to The Nation, Vice President Jamaat-e-Islami Liaqat Balcoh said the JUI-F had the right to peaceful protest.

To a question about any recent contact from Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he said, ‘parties remains in contact’. However, he did not share a clear stance to join the possible ‘Azadi Marach’.

Sources said the religious parties have so far not given any final decision to JUI-F for their participation in the upcoming announced long March. These religious parties have also planned their internal parties meetings to decide about the long march.

INP adds: JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman on Saturday likened his upcoming Azadi March to a ‘fight to the finish’, which he said would ‘end only when government falls’.

At a press conference in Peshawar, he said whole country will turn into a battlefield once protests are started against the incumbent government.

The JUI-F chief announced that the first destination of Azadi March will be Islamabad. He affirmed that the masses in huge number will sweep away the PTI-led government, adding, he will use plan B and C if need arises.

“Our strategy will not remain stagnant. We will keep changing it to cope with [any] situation,” he said. He insisted that a “flood of people from all over the country” was coming to join the march.

“The country’s economy has been destroyed and employment opportunities have been brought to an end. We will become the voice of a common man and Pakistan.

“Our demand will be to conduct fresh elections. Business community is already protesting owing to taxes and time has come to send the ineligible and illegitimate government packing.

When asked whether he has been able to garner the support of other opposition parties, he said that he “hope(s) to see them” in the march. He added that since all opposition parties agreed that last year’s general elections were ‘fake’ and that a reelection should be held, they should all be “on the same page and same stage”.

He said that he was not afraid of being arrested, such a move would fan the protesters’ anger against the government.

“We are not afraid of arrests as they will worsen the situation. Former president Asif Ali Zardari is supporting the Azadi March as there is no disappointment from any side.

“Government wants to gain international support by highlighting the madrassah (religious seminaries) issue.

“Imran Khan has put Pakistan in trouble by talking about nuclear war. It is a diplomatic failure of Pakistan to indulge in warmongering.”

In response to a question about government’s claim that the JUI-F chief was ‘using’ children studying in seminaries against the government, Fazl alleged that rulers were trying to deny students their democratic right.

Moreover, he claimed, the proportion of seminary students would be minimal, as people from every walk of life were joining the march.

“We have stated our policy. We do not want to clash with institutions, that we want to respect them.

The JUI-F chief denied that there was any similarity between the sit-ins held by the now-ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s Tahirul Qadri and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Khadim Rizvi, saying he was leading a march for the “independence” of the public.

He was visibly annoyed when asked if the party was collecting donations for its march and said: “Why wouldn’t we? It is our right, where else will we get money from? Why is there so much noise over this?

“We are not being funded by any western country. We are asking our workers, friends.”

Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has announced to hold ‘Azadi March’ in Islamabad from October 27.