The Pakistan Army warned on Saturday that no one in the country would be allowed to create instability or chaos. A day before this, religious leader and politician Maulana Fazal ur Rehman had set a deadline of two days for Imran Khan to leave the post of prime minister. Radical religious leader Rehman addressed a protest rally organised to oust the current government here on Friday. The demonstration rally was named the ‘Independence March’.
Rehman said in his address that “Gorbachev of Pakistan” should resign without testing the patience of peaceful protesters. He said that only the people of the country had the right to rule Pakistan, not any ‘institution’. He said on Friday, “We do not want any confrontation with our institutions. We want them to be neutral. We also give two days time to the institutions to decide whether they will continue to support this government.”
On Rehman’s remarks, Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, as a senior leader, should clarify which institution he was talking about. Pakistan’s armed forces, Maj Gen Ghafoor claimed, was a neutral institution, which had “always supported democratically elected governments”. He warned that no one would be allowed to create instability because the country cannot tolerate anarchy.
Maj Gen Ghafoor defended the deployment of the Army during the 2018 general election. He said that this fulfilled the constitutional responsibility in elections. He said that if the opposition had any objection (to the results), it should go to the relevant forums instead of making noises on the streets.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said that issues related to democracy should be resolved democratically and he appreciated the talks between the protesters and the government. Rehman told the media in response to Maj Gen Ghafoor’s remarks after a meeting with opposition leaders that the military spokesman should refrain from making statements that violated the Army’s neutrality. He said that this statement should have come from some politician, not from the Army.
Rehman said that if Prime Minister Imran Khan did not adhere to his two-day deadline, the opposition would meet on Saturday and a decision would be taken on the next step.
Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal-led Independence March had reached its final destination on Thursday. The march had started in Sindh province and left Lahore on Wednesday.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz [PML(N)], Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP), along with Rehman, had organised this March to oust the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by Prime Minister Khan.
At the same time, ignoring the protest, Prime Minister Khan, while addressing a public meeting in Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday, told the protesters that they should not expect any relief from his government. He said that the days were over when people used Islam to come to power. This is the new Pakistan.”
“Sit for as long as you want. When your food items are finished, more will be sent,” Khan said. “However, we will not give you the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO),” he added.
The NRO was issued in Pakistan in October 2007 to provide amnesty to politicians, political activists and bureaucrats accused of corruption, money laundering, murder and terrorism.
the prime minister of Pakistan asked from whom the ilk of Fazal ur Rehman wanted freedom. “I want the media to go there and ask people from whom they want independence,” Khan said.
Khan said that the demonstration rally had made Pakistan’s enemies happy. Pointing indirectly to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother Shahbaz, former President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, he said that his government would put them all in jail.