Business Standard

Azadi March: Pak cleric takes on Imran Khan; opposition unites


ANI Europe
Rome [Italy], Oct 30 (ANI): "Have you ever heard that an Azadi March is being taken out, seeking the resignation of the Prime Minister? But why do you want it?" Speaking at the launching ceremony of Baba Guru Nanak University, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was commenting that the 'Azadi March' led by JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, also known as 'Maulana Diesel' for the quotas he would ask for himself after being nominated as the Minister of Petroleum by Benazir Bhutto.
The march set out from Karachi's Sohrab Goth area on Sunday afternoon and is heading for Islamabad after touching the biggest cities of the country. Tens of thousands of people, including the madrasa students, religious parties fellows joined the march, along with the convoys of PPP, ANP and other opposition parties.
Shehbaz Sharif, the Opposition leader in Pakistan National Assembly has also announced Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) support for the march, and so did other members of opposition parties.
According to Maulana Diesel, the march has been called to "protect the Constitution, democracy and Pakistan". He alleges that Imran Khan's government has put the survival of the country at risk, adding that he will give details about his requests once the march will reach Islamabad.
Khan, during the same speech quoted above, went on to say: "Their purpose is not that the government is failing. They are scared that the government is succeeding", where 'they' refer to the opposition parties.
Easy to ask in here what the government is succeeding besides ruining the economy, but this is another matter. The point is, there are troubles in heaven. And apparently Imran Khan is having a good taste of his own medicine. He conveniently forgot, in fact, that he did exactly the same during the Nawaz Sharif's government.
His personal Azadi March, against the alleged rigging of elections, started in August 2014 and kept the country practically under siege for months. In the name of democracy, Imran and his men marched on Islamabad besieging the so-called 'red zone' of the city -- the area where the government buildings and foreign embassies are located.
To give more strength to their "peaceful" protest, cranes were brought along to remove the containers placed by the army to protect the area and a 'dharna' started and lasted for days.
Despite the claims of being 'peaceful', many clashes erupted between demonstrators and police. The worst was at the end of August, when the 'Azadi' tried to reach the prime minister's house.
500 people, including women and children (made to march at the head of the protest, while Imran and his men were hiding behind them), had been wounded.
The protest turned more and more violent with the passing of the days and ended only towards the middle of September. During that particular 'Azadi March', Javed Hashmi, the then PTI president, disgusted by the attacks on television and parliament, resigned from the party.
He stated that Khan had decided to launch his assault on the buildings of power after receiving a text message from the generals who remote-controlled the Captain. Hashmi informed that according to the message, there would be at least five army corps ready to support Khan.
Hashmi added that Khan had acted against the express will of the party leaders declaring that it was necessary to "follow the script" of the Army. Now, according to many observers, the situation is not that different. Imran won the elections with the help of the Army, and the Army is most probably sending him a strong message by allowing another 'Azadi March', this time against their pupil, to take place.
"The Constitution has been made a joke in this country," Maulana Diesel said, alleging that the Prime Minister has become a security risk. "Imran has ruined the economy, and a country with a devastated economy can't survive".
Given that the good old Diesel never gave a damn for democracy or Constitution, the keywords here are 'security risk'. Translated, it means Imran talks too much and without thinking first. He proclaimed himself 'protector of Kashmir' and, talking of Kashmir, has been more than once saying things that did not make the Army happy at all. His 'charm offensives' abroad were also a failure.
The 'educated and polite' face of the Pakistani Army, selected because more palatable to the West than some bearded mullah and easier to manoeuvre than more seasoned politicians, is not doing his job well enough. Whispers and rumours in Pakistan say a coup is on its way and Imran will soon find himself jobless. Maybe not, but for sure Frankenstein is sending a strong message to his creature: don't think you have a will of your own. We created you, and we can destroy you all the same.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Oct 30 2019 | 9:56 PM IST

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