Maulana Fazlur Rehman has extended his deadline for the prime minister’s resignation, after receiving a cold response from the government. The JUI-F chief has been deserted by the two main opposition parties, the PPP and the PML-N, delivering a blow to the ‘Azadi March’ which seems to be losing steam.
The leaders of the main opposition parties, notably Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto, attended the public rally delivering fiery speeches against the government. However, both have now shied away from attending the sit-in.
The JUI-F chief has threatened to spread the protest throughout the country, but has hinted that he will not move towards the sensitive Red Zone area or the Prime Minister’s House. A meeting of the opposition’s committee to discuss the future course of action did not materialise either. It seems that the JUI-F chief is frustrated that his plans have been thwarted without the opposition’s support.
The PPP and PML-N had told the JUI-F chief that they would not attend the sit-in and have not issued any directive to their workers. PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal stated that even Nawaz Sharif had asked them to participate for just one day, while Bilawal maintained that their party has always opposed dharna politics.
This comes with a sigh of relief for the PML-N as Maryam Nawaz was granted bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills and will be released soon. Furthermore, reports have emerged that Interpol has refused to issue a red notice against former finance minister Ishaq Dar and will not investigate him further.
PPP refused to participate in an indefinite sit-in or even hold a tokenistic participation. The party had instead decided to stick to its own plan to address gatherings in South Punjab. Other political parties such as ANP have criticised the lack of coordination in the sit-in and have walked away as well.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly stated that the opposition will not receive any amnesty from him, and issuing an NRO is tantamount to betrayal with the country. He is adamant that unless opposition leaders are not held accountable, the country cannot be put back on the track to development.
This has given credence to claims that opposition parties are being provided relief measures to sabotage the Azadi March. Rumours about a purported deal with the opposition remain, but it is certain that the opposition has deserted the Maulana when he needed them most.
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