Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had been burning the midnight oil to ‘sensitise the world’ to the condition of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, now feels his own throne shaking. Voices against his government in the Islamic country are turning shriller, to deal with which Khan would leave no stone unturned. A few days ago, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam [JUI(F)] leader Maulana Fazal ur Rehman announced he would take an ‘independence march’ to Islamabad to remove the Imran Khan government from power. Since then, the Pakistan government is looking for a formula for a truce with the hardliner.
Imran Khan has asked his colleagues to open a dialogue with JUI(F) chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman who has called a meeting against the government in the federal capital on 31 October. Khan gave these instructions during a meeting with the spokespersons of the government in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The maulana had warned Imran if his government tried to stop the independence march, the whole of Pakistan would face a blockade.
A spokesperson briefed the media about the meeting, saying that it has been decided that the government would reach out to the JUI(F) chief to ascertain the demands of his organisation rather than let the deadlock continue. The spokesperson said, “It has been decided in the meeting that the agitation by Maulana Rahman by way of an independence march from Sindh on 27 October will not be stopped. The march will reach Islamabad on 31 October.”
The spokesperson said that if the protesters of the so-called independence march were to become uncontrollable, the law would deal with the activists sternly.
The Pakistan prime minister‘s response is clear. He posits that there is no harm in contacting the recalcitrant maulana to avoid any deadlock. The spokesman said that Imran Khan is of the view that the JUI(F) chief is in the league of the two main opposition parties Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz [PML(N)] and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and must, therefore, be treated with the respect accorded to opposition parties.
It was reportedly observed during the meeting that both the PPP and the PML(N), which had been in power twice and thrice respectively, had reached a stage where they are forced to seek the help of smaller parties in the country.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul Haq Qadri made it clear that he had not been given any responsibility on behalf of the prime minister to negotiate with the maulana. In a statement, the minister said that there was no truth in those reports posted by the media that Imran Khan had tasked him to form a committee to look into the matter.
The media reports indicated that the maulana would not be allowed to enter Islamabad and that he could be arrested in Punjab or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is believed that the Sindh government, where the PPP is in power, will allow the JUI-F chief to start his self-styled independence march.