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Imran Khan’s party rose to power on dharnas. Now it is hilariously trying to stop Azadi March

If PTI leaders are to be believed then Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s protest is nothing less than a war on democracy.

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Fourteen months is all it took for PM Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan to be threatened with a mass protest led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Planned for 27 October, the ‘Azadi March’ to Islamabad aims to oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.

In any other countries, these protest shenanigans wouldn’t be a big deal, but in Naya Pakistan, it is no less than a war on democracy, a conspiracy of sorts, if some ruling party leaders are to believed. Wonder why a government that came into being after endless protests and dharnas is hell-bent on stopping a Maulana who they claim is only trying to save his “sinking politics”.

Suddenly, the one-time supporters of anarchy find themselves rather hilariously trying to stop the 27 October dharna. Why are the container-walas afraid of marchers? Everything – from concerns about school attendance in madrassas to homosexuality is being thrown at it.

Rehman has been urging the establishment, bureaucracy and police not to back Khan’s illegitimate regime. The protesters’ charge sheet against the PTI government include: being selected to power through rigged elections, selling out the Kashmir cause, dismal economic performance and putting opposition leaders in jail.


Also read: 7 ways Imran Khan’s fans tried to show Pakistanis his US visit was a success


Yesteryears’ dharna masters

Who doesn’t remember the 126-day long dharna fest by the PTI in Islamabad in 2014? The capital was in lockdown and even the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan had to be cancelled. The same Xi who now inspires Khan to jail 500 “corrupt people” in Pakistan. Has the prime minister forgotten the attacks by his men on the building of the state-run Pakistan Television and Pakistan’s parliament, his calls for civil disobedience while burning electricity bills, his speeches atop container trucks, and the unforgettable shalwar kameez drying outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan? All this and much more to get Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.

Container trucks, biryani and protesters are coming back to D Chowk, minus Imran Khan this time. The container dharnas have boomeranged on Khan. The government is trying everything it can to put a brake on the protest brigade. And leading the charge is interior minister Brigadier Ijaz Shah (retd.) who has called the sit-in an act of “suicide”, hoping that the Maulana and followers will not march towards Islamabad. Not to forget that Shah had earlier threatened anyone who tries to block roads with sit-ins with severe police action, including baton-charge and beatings.

Yesteryears’ dharna masters are now running a smear campaign against the JUI-F protesters with fake letters and notifications. One fake letter said this about preparing for the protests: “Participants will completely refrain from [engaging in] sodomy without the permission of their emir (leader),” which was also tweeted by Science and Technology minister Fawad Chaudhry. Another fake notification read: “A possible massive wave of homosexuality in Islamabad after a political gathering planned on 27th October.” And that “homosexuality is strictly prohibited in Islam and hence, cannot be tolerated in any form, whether in a political gathering or during private meetings”.


Also read: From Jinnah’s family to Nawaz Sharif: Pakistan thinks everyone is a foreign agent


Stopping Azadi March

A petition against the Azadi March in the Islamabad High Court has been filed. For the time being, the judge has termed the plea premature and adjourned the hearing for one week.

Never have PTI leaders worried so much about the madrassa students missing school, going to dharnas or even existing for that matter. But now everyone in the PTI and their uncles are worried about madrassa students. Did they worry about those madrassa kids who joined their 2014 sit-in with Tahirul Qadri or those students who missed school when they blocked the capital?

Meanwhile, Ali Amin Gandapur, Kashmir affairs minister, took things too seriously by sending a notice of Rs 50 billion to Maulana Fazlur Rehman “for making anti-state and derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Imran Khan”. Gandapur says he has evidence that the Maulana is working on foreign agenda. Nothing new there, everyone is accused of being an agent of someone in Pakistan.

Talking of agents, the rivalry of Fazlur Rehman and Imran Khan goes back to the days when Khan was called a “Jewish agent” by Rehman. His recent visit to the US and his meeting with Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros has gone unnoticed. Rehman says, “Imran Khan wants to make Pakistan’s educational system subservient to the West”. Strange how that will happen because Khan himself is blaming the British for destroying the education system in Pakistan.

The government wants to stop the Azadi March and Imran Khan is also hopeful that Maulana Fazlur Rehman won’t be able to exploit the “religion card”. Wonder if the PM’s 2018 election campaign, where he exploited the issue of blasphemy and finality of the Prophet to the full, is the reason that there aren’t any more credits to exploit from the religion card anymore.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. If there is an award for politicians for hypocrisy, Im the Dim Khan will win by a huge margin.
    He will beat all the politicians not just in South Asia, but entire world.
    Im the Dim alias Puppet Khan is a certified hypocrite.

  2. Pakistan slipping down the military State route whilst Bangladesh (albeit all the problems) emerging as a social welfare State. Poor children stuck in Madrassas in a world of AI and digital technology.

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