‘COAS Bajwa asked JUI-F to call off Azadi March, stop opposing action against Nawaz’


Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Senate Abdul Ghafoor Haideri has said that army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had invited the JUI-F delegation for a meeting wherein he insisted that the party ‘calls off the Azadi March’ held against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.Haideri revealed that not only the army chief asked them to abort the anti-government protest, but he also urged them not to ‘interfere in what we [establishment] are doing with Nawaz Sharif’.

In Oct, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman led thousands of anti-government protesters in the name of Azadi March to Islamabad in a bid to oust prime minister Imran Khan, though the disruption fell short of what organizers had planned. Thousands of supporters reached the capital Islamabad on Oct. 31, holding a two-week sit-in on the city’s main highway.

Later, Fazlur Rehman has said that he called off his anti-government Azadi March after being assured that a ‘change’ will take place in December. He went on to say that he was told that if he ends the sit-in, the general elections would be held in the next three months.

Earlier, the military spokesperson, Major Gen Babar Iftikhar, told a news channel about two meetings between army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and former Sindh governor and PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair.

The discussion during these meetings revolved around Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, the spokesperson had claimed.

However, Zubair admitted to meeting the army chief in a personal capacity. He rejected the impression that any relief was sought for the Sharifs in those meetings.

Before this, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed revealed that a delegation of parliamentary leaders met Gen Bajwa at General Headquarters, Rawalpindi.

He made this claim a day after the opposition’s all-parties conference where they announced the formation of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance against the government and called for an end to the interference of the military establishment in politics.

Meeting between Bajwa and Opp leaders

It was revealed that the opposition lawmakers met Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.

The reports raised many questions, considering that opposition parties had taken a strong position against the military’s role in politics just a day earlier.

This could be a ‘routine’ meeting, as lawmakers often meet the military top brass to discuss the issues that pertain to the national security, but the secrecy that shrouded it till the word came out has given rise to speculations.

Gilgit-Baltistan issues

According to Senator Sherry Rehman, the meeting which was held on the request of the army chief was convened to discuss the ‘sensitive’ issues pertaining to Gilgit-Baltistan in the wake of ‘increasing Indian aggression’.

The political issues did not come up during the meeting, said the PPP leader, adding the party agenda remained limited to the issues pertaining to the GB region. The army chief said the political parties needed to strengthen the parliamentary democracy, she admitted, refusing to give further details.