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‘Azaadi March’ Reaches Islamabad, Demands Pak PM’s Resignation

The protestors who are challenging Imran Khan’s leadership of Pakistan, reached Islamabad on Friday, 1 November.

Updated
World
3 min read
Supporters of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party chant slogans while they gather to start an anti-government march, in Karachi, Pakistan.
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Pakistan’s anti-government 'Azaadi March', led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the chief of the right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) party reached its final destination in Islamabad early morning on Friday, 1 November, reported ANI.

Opposition parties participating in the protest are scheduled to hold a rally after Friday prayers. Rehman is expected to present his demands at the rally on Friday, according to Geo News.

The march, attended by tens of thousands of protesters, started on 27 October. The caravans are making their way to Islamabad to call for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation. They want him to resign over concerns about the weak economy and corruption allegations, Al Jazeera reported.

WHAT IS THE AZAADI MARCH?

The anti-government march, dubbed as 'Azaadi March', is led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman and has been joined by other opposition parties in Pakistan.

The caravan of protestors who are challenging Khan's leadership of the country reached Islamabad on Thursday night, Geo News reported.

The caravan, spearheaded by Rehman, had begun on 27 October from Karachi's Sohrab Goth area amid a massive show of strength by party workers from other opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People's Party (PPP), and Awami National Party (ANP), ANI reported.

All schools will be closed in Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Friday in anticipation of the rally, reports said.

Rehman had reportedly told the protestors that the march is also a way to show solidarity with Kashmiri residents facing hardship at the hands of Indian troops.

WHAT HAVE LEADERS SAID AT THE MARCH?

Speaking at the main camp of the Azaadi March in Islamabad, the People’s Party chairperson called PM Khan a “puppet”, and said that they will not bow down to any “dictator”.

“We are not ready to bow before any selector or dictator... The hub of power is people and not the state,” Bhutto told the crowd on Friday, according to ANI.

He also asked PM Khan to step down, saying “All opposition parties have gathered at one platform to give a clear message to Prime Minister Khan that the time had come for him to step down.”

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WHAT HAS REHMAN SAID?

Addressing a crowd of his supporters, Rehman said that the caravan was going to Islamabad to announce that the leaders of the government are 'fake', according to Geo News.

Rehman had reportedly demanded that the government should resign before the march reaches Islamabad.

“This government does not have any mandate,” he said, according to Geo News. “The mandate can be seen in this march,” Rehman also said.

Rehman had reportedly told the protestors that the march is also a way to show solidarity with Kashmiri residents facing hardship at the hands of Indian troops. He said the nation is one in support of oppressed Kashmiris, according to Associated Press.

DOES THE MARCH HAVE THE NUMBERS?

The 'Azadi March' is capable of matching the rallies of political parties in the recent past against the government. It is likely to outnumber the "2014 dharna" led by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Geo News reported.

ANI reported that videos posted on social media show tens of thousands of people, including the madrasa students and religious party workers marching towards the capital.

The head of the government’s negotiation committee, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak has made it clear that the protesters will “see no obstacles” from the government as long as the protest is peaceful.

Pakistani Journalist Reham Khan has posted a video on Twitter, which shows a flyover packed with protestors, clad in yellow shirt and trousers, carrying sticks and canes, holding opposition party flags, and chanting slogans against the government.

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HAVE THERE BEEN ANY INSTANCES OF VIOLENCE?

While the march has some strong demands, there have been no instances of violence by the protestors, for which Rehman has also praised his party workers.

The ruling parties agreed to let the march progress as planned, as long as the protestors don't cross the sensitive “red zone” in Islamabad, Geo News reported.

The Pakistan government had earlier considering calling in the Army in Islamabad to counter the protest march. However, the government and the opposition on Saturday settled the terms and conditions for the protest, PTI reported, quoting Dawn.

The head of the government's negotiation committee, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak has made it clear that the protesters will "see no obstacles" from the government as long as the protest is peaceful.

(With inputs from ANI, Geo News, PTI, AP and Al Jazeera)

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