* JUI-F chief says party will join Kashmiris in observing Oct 27 as black day
* IHC tells Islamabad DC to ensure law and order in capital
* Police commences preparations to ‘deal with’ ‘Azadi March’
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) chief Fazal ur Rehman on Wednesday announced that the ‘Azadi March’ planned by his party against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government will now take place on October 31, instead of the previously announced date of October 27.
“My party will join Kashmiris in observing October 27 as a black day across the country in protest against the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir,” he told reporters here. He said the march will ‘begin’ on Oct 27. He said the caravans will express solidarity with Kashmiris on Oct 27 and then leave for the capital. “We have decided to enter Islamabad on October 31,” he said, explaining that the days following October 27 will allow caravans from faraway districts to reach the federal capital. “People from all over the country will enter Islamabad at the same time,” he added.
The JUI-F has already sought permission from the Islamabad administration to hold the ‘Azadi March’ at D-Chowk located in the red zone. JUI-F leader Senator Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, through his counsel Kamran Murtaza, submitted an application to the chief commissioner Islamabad seeking permission to hold the march as well as security arrangements for the participants. “The JUI-F will be holding the Azadi March at D-Chowk, Islamabad, exercising its democratic and constitutional right under Articles 16 and 17 of the constitution against the incumbent government,” the application read.
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Brig (r) Ijaz Shah repeated that he strongly believes that JUI-F chief Fazal ur Rehman will not come to Islamabad for the ‘Azadi March’ on October 27. “Fazal ur Rehman is a big politician, he remained in politics throughout his life, his father too was a politician. In my opinion, as I say, Maulana Sahib will not come, I do believe this because this is [politically] suicidal,” he said.
When asked if the government will show any flexibility in case the JUI-F wants to hold talks, the minister said that the government will definitely show flexibility. He added there is not a single point in the demands of the JUI-F of which the government has not taken cognizance. “No syllabus is being changed, no restrictions are being imposed against seminaries – in fact seminaries are being improved,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court, while hearing a petition on Wednesday against the ‘Azadi March’, directed Islamabad administration to ensure law and order in the city. A single bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah directed the deputy commissioner of the capital city to maintain law and order. The permission for the sit-in will not be granted if the JUI-F will not apply for it, the bench remarked. The court granted permission to the PTI as per the law when the party held sit-in (in 2014), it further remarked.
Petitioner Hafiz Ahtisham while pleading his case in person requested the court to prohibit Fazal ur Rehman from his ‘Azadi March’ and the sit-in. The petitioner said the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court earlier ordered that a protest and sit-in should be restricted to a fixed place to avoid any disruption to routine life.
The bench told the petitioner that his plea was premature. The petitioner sought permission to appoint a lawyer for pleading his case. The bench granted the permission and adjourned the hearing for a week.
Meanwhile, police has commenced preparations for the JUI-F march. The personnel of the Anti-Riot Unit (ARU) of Islamabad Police participated in a training session held in two shifts at the Police Lines. Special sessions are being organised on a daily basis to train police for handling the crowd. It is pertinent to mention here that Islamabad Police has sought additional contingents comprising 20,000 officials from other provinces for security measures in the federal capital.