Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan heads towards a massive political challenge as a mammoth protest rally has been spearheaded by an influential Pakistani cleric demanding his resignation accusing him of “rigging” the 2018 general elections.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman launched the ‘Azadi March’ along with leaders of other opposition parties on October 27 from the southern Sindh province to arrive in Islamabad on October 31. However, this massive rally has been postponed for a day on Thursday in the wake of the tragic Lahore train inferno that killed at least 74 people.
Rehman has accused Khan of mismanagement of economy, inefficiency and bad governance that has increased the hardships of the common people of Pakistan. “The person (Prime Minister Imran Khan) has come to power through the rigging of elections. He should see the writing on the wall and resign or we will drive him out,” the Pakistani cleric told his supporters on the way to Islamabad which he reached in the wee hours of Friday.
According to reports, thousands of people are taking part in the rally. Supporters of various opposition parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People Party (PPP), have also joined the anti-government protest rally.
The protestors have encamped in the ground near the Peshawar Mor area where different political parties have set up their camps to house their workers.
Addressing the protestors at the venue, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Imran Khan is a “puppet” and the nation is not ready to bow its head before a “selected” prime minister and “those who have selected him”.
The Pakistani authorities have made elaborate security arrangements and additional police and paramilitary personnel have also been deployed in Islamabad to prevent any violence.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan’ government alleged that the opposition parties have influenced the protest so that they could force the government to release its top leaders, currently held in jails. Imran Khan and his party has ruled out his resignation but showed readiness to accept any other demand to improve the election system or system of governance.
Imran Khan has been passing through choppy waters as there has been a recent surge in voices of dissent against him and his governance. Recently, various political parties under the banner of All Independent Parties Alliance (AIPA) had come together in Muzaffarabad for a ‘pro-freedom’ rally against Pakistan’s illegal occupation of Kashmir. The day was marked as ‘Black Day’ in Pakistan as people in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan demand Pakistan leave their territory. However, Pakistan police resorted to lathi-charge on peaceful protestors and used tear gas.
In September 2019, to choke the voices of dissent, Pakistan government had registered FIR against students and youth in PoK for chanting slogans against the PM during his rally.
It sad that while Imran Khan has been lately keeping himself busy portraying to be the ‘ambassador of Kashmir’, his Naya Pakistan, which has been in war with itself dealing with a debt-ridden economy, has now collectively decided to extricate the premier from his duties.