The federal government of Pakistan has called on Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and head of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), to relocate their planned sit-in from outside the Supreme Court to D-Chowk in Islamabad. The government made this appeal to prevent further tension in the country.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman announced a peaceful sit-in outside the apex court on Monday, criticizing Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial for allegedly granting VIP treatment to Imran Khan, the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The decision to stage the sit-in was made during a meeting of PDM party heads, which was attended by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif via video link from London.
In a surprising turn of events, Federal Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar visited Maulana Fazlur Rehman and urged him to reconsider staging the sit-in outside the Supreme Court. They expressed concerns about the already fragile law and order situation in the country, referring to the violent protests that erupted following Imran Khan’s recent arrest.
Despite the government’s request, Maulana Fazlur Rehman stated that convoys from all over the country were already on their way to Islamabad. He asserted that the decision on the sit-in would be made by the people in what he referred to as the “people’s court” on Monday. He assured the ministers that the protest would remain peaceful.
Rana Sanaullah later addressed a press conference, revealing that intelligence agencies had warned about the potential repercussions of holding the protest in the red zone or Constitutional Avenue area of Islamabad. The agencies anticipated a large number of angry protesters who disagreed with the decisions made by the three-member bench of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial. Sanaullah expressed concern that handling the situation in the red zone would be challenging for the administration.
Considering the security risks, the government requested Maulana Fazlur Rehman to change the venue of the protest, suggesting D-Chowk instead. Fazlur Rehman asked for time to make a final decision and agreed to meet with the ministers again later in the evening.
Preparations for the JUI-F protest sit-in outside the Supreme Court were already underway, with workers mobilizing across the country. Caravans of JUI-F workers were scheduled to depart from various districts, converging at Haklah Interchange before proceeding to the apex court as a central convoy.
As tensions rise, the nation eagerly awaits the outcome of Monday’s protest. Whether the sit-in proceeds as planned outside the Supreme Court or is relocated to D-Chowk, it is expected to have significant implications for the political landscape of Pakistan.