By Sajjad Hussain
PAKISTAN’S hard-line cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Friday gave Prime Minister Imran Khan a two-day ultimatum to resign, saying the “Gorbachev of Pakistan” must step down without testing the patience of peaceful protesters.
Addressing a massive protest rally, dubbed ‘Azadi March’, held here to topple the incumbent Government, Rehman said that only people of Pakistan and not any “institution” had the right to govern the country. The much-hyped rally led by the right-wing Opposition leader’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) reached its final destination Islamabad on Thursday after it set off from Sindh province and left Lahore on Wednesday.
Along with Rehman, leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Awami National Party (ANP) participated in the march held to topple PTI Government led by Khan. “The elections of 25 July were fraud elections. We neither accept the results nor the Government that came into power after those elections. We gave this Government one year but now we cannot give them any more time,” he said. He said the Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Government has destroyed the economy while endangering the very existence of the country.
“The Gorbachev of Pakistan must go. We give (Khan) two days to resign, otherwise, we will decide about the future,” he said. Rehman said that the protesters were peaceful but their patience should not be tested. He urged his followers to stay put and “do not move until we get his resignation”. He said that the future course of action will be decided in consultation with the Opposition parties and the protesters if the deadline was not met.
Rehman also urged the powerful institutions (of Armed Forces) to stay neutral in the situation. “We do not want conflict with our institutions. But we also want to see them to stay neutral. We give two days to the institutions (also) to decide if they will continue to support this Government. After that, we will decide what opinion we should have about them,” he said.
Rehman also attacked the Government’s Kashmir policy and accused it of abandoning Kashmiris. He said the Government was making friendship with India by opening up the Kartarpur corridor. “The time has come to get rid of this fake Government. “We will not let Imran Khan Niazi go free until Pakistan gets rid of the Prime Minister,” said PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif while addressing the huge gathering attended by tens of thousands of people here.
“If given a chance, we along with the joint Opposition will fix Pakistan’s economy within six months, otherwise you can rename me as ‘Imran Niazi’,” he was quoted as saying by the ‘Dawn’ newspaper. ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that the Opposition parties will not rest until the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Government has been “sent home”.
Addressing the demonstrators at the venue, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Imran Khan was a “puppet” and the nation is not ready to bow its head before a “selected” Prime Minister and “those who have selected him”.