Challenges For Imran Khan Are Not Over. October Might Be A Difficult Month
Islamabad: Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam-F (JUI-F)’s October lockdown of Islamabad or the ‘Freedom March’ as they call it may bring to an end Imran Khan’s tenure as PM.
Sources in the JUI-F told Naya Daur that Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman made it clear during the Shura meeting held on August 24-25 in Islamabad that he would go to any extent to bring down the government. He directed his Shura (Central Body) members to get ready for any eventuality in October.
When asked what made Maulana so confident that he could bring the government down when the establishment is said to be supporting it, the source who holds a key position in the party, said that the extension given to the army chief is an indication that all is not well.
“Imran Khan believes that the hurriedly-given extension to the army chief will thwart opposition plans to lock down Islamabad but in fact it weakened his position. It shows how panicked he is that he made the decisions three months in advance. In addition to that, we have been receiving signals from the right quarters that our Freedom March in October will not be blocked or resisted”, the source added.
He added that during a recently-held Wafaqul Madaris event, Army Chief told some Ulema that he has held his communication channel open with Maulana and dispelled media reports of a rift between the army and Maulana. “Do not worry, we have high regard for Maulana” Army Chief reportedly said according to the source.
When asked why the establishment wants to dislodge Imran Khan as PM when they see eye-to-eye on all major issues, he said that Imran Khan failed on all fronts ranging from diplomacy to economy. Second, his uncompromising attitude towards opposition is not viewed favorably by the powers-that-be.
Most probably there will be an In-house change, if not then an arrangement could be made to bring in another Shaukat Aziz-like character. When asked what Fazlur Rehman would gain from toppling Imran Khan as PM, the source said that Maulana is a shrewd politician and he has set his goalposts. His first objective is to topple Imran Khan as PM which ultimately would mean the end of PTI. His second objective will be to go for wrapping up the system and demand for new elections.
Asked what would be the strategy if Maulana gets arrested before the Freedom March and things failed to materialise as desired, the source said: “We have a Plan B which will be disclosed when required.”
Will other opposition parties join the Freedom March, the source said Maulana wants all opposition parties on board as he does not want the West and America view this March of a religious party but rather a march that has political objectives.
The author is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist and contributes to different national and international papers and journals.