Thousands of protesters demand re-election in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Tens of thousands of people led by religious political party Jamiat Ulema Islam- Fazal (JUI-F) have gathered in Islamabad to stage a sit-in demanding the ouster of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and re-election in the country.

The opposition political parties joined their hands with JUI-F in the March and rally against the government but did not join the sit-in. JUI-F Chief, Maulana Fazl ur Rehman who announced a “Azadi March” (Independence Rally) against the alleged rigging in the 2018 elections announced to stage sit-in after reaching Islamabad.

The protesters gave a two-day deadline for PM Imran Khan’s resignation warning chaos if their demands were not met. The government has rejected the resignation demand and asked the protesters to obey the agreement made with the administration regarding the rally.

JUI-F chief has summoned a meeting of his party’s top leadership for consultations on future course of action as the two-day deadline expires on Sunday. In his address to the protesters, the JUI-F chief said the current government had worsened the economy and the loans taken in the last one year was more than the credit taken in over 70 years. “Pakistan’s situation will move towards a decline if this government is given more time,” he said.

PM Khan accused that opposition leaders are protesting due to recent accountability measures taken by the government. He reiterated that Pakistan could never progress without accountability of those who had allegedly plundered the nation’s wealth.

“Unless they are held accountable, the country could not be put on track of progress,” said Khan in a statement on Sunday. Pakistan’s Defense Minister and head of government negotiating team, Pervez Khattak in a press conference said, “Our doors are open for talks with the opposition but we will not allow any attempt to create chaos.” The minister warned the protesters of moving forward from the designated venue saying, “it will be tantamount to breach of the agreement, which would compel the government to take action as per the law.” Khattak further said, “If they violate the agreement, the administration will take action. Make no mistake. If the opposition resorts to violence or causes any damage to public or private property, they will be held responsible.” Security has been beefed up across Islamabad as the government and diplomatic sector is just few kilometers away from the sit-in venue. Security of all important buildings and PM House has been raised. All the roads towards the venue are sealed through shipping containers and extra contingents of security forces have been called in from other provinces into the capital.

Source: Kuwait News Agency