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‘Maulana Might Leave But Not Without Face-saving’

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Journalist Murtaza Solangi has stated that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman might leave Islamabad but not without face-saving.

In a vlog for Naya Daur, Murtaza Solangi talked in detail about the reasons for Maulana’s march, whether his allies had betrayed him, the reasons for a change in his tone, the gains he had made from the march and if Imran Khan was out of danger.

Who encouraged Maulana Fazl to come to Islamabad?

Solangi was of the view that the JUI-F chief came to Islamabad on his own, adding that it was important to note that JUI-F had the largest number of members among the participants of the Azadi March, followed by Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Awami National Party.

Did Maulana’s allies betray him?

Solangi stated that this was not true. Though Bilawal Bhutto and Shahbaz Sharif attempted to dissuade him from the march, they did give their support to him. He added that Maulana received encouragement from the fact that in his last appearance in court, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif stated that they were in support of Maulana and would aid him in any manner.

Why did Maulana’s tone change?

Solangi stated that it was important to note that when he made his speech on November 2, his tone was different than it was on November 1.

Solangi stated that this could be seen in light of the fact that after his speech on November 1, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations asked Maulana Fazl to clarify which institution he was referring to in his speech. Maulana had replied that he did not refer to the military, but the DG ISPR himself was referring to the military.

However, Solangi observed, that we did notice a change in Maulana Fazl’s tone after this exchange with the DG ISPR. In his speeches following that of November one, there were no threats and no mention of going to Islamabad’s D Chowk. Moreover, he did not talk about General Bajwa’s extension.

What has Maulana achieved?

Furthermore, Maulana Fazl has now started to put the burden of making the decision regarding the march on the opposition parties, the All Parties Conference and the Rehbar Committee.

Murtaza Solangi also argued that this does not mean that Maulana Fazl was not making any headway. He stated that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had arrived in Islamabad to negotiate with the JUI-F chief.

Solangi said that important issues would be settled with the Chaudhrys, as they are well-connected with the stakeholders in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Meanwhile negotiations with the government and the prime minister, which was under the Rehbar Committee, would continue.

Regarding the question about why Maulana was bent on going to Islamabad despite the refusal of his allied parties to do so. “Whether the powers that sent Maulana to Islamabad have taken back their support, or have backed down, and whether he has been betrayed and trapped, we won’t get an answer to this now,” he stated.

He added that when it comes to important political happenings in Pakistan, many factors are not revealed and such will be the case now.

What would become of Maulana Fazl if he went back?

Murtaza Solangi argued that Maulana Fazl won’t have trouble maintaining his support and would remind his supporters of the fact that he was previously not paid any attention to, but the government was now listening to him.

Maulana Fazl would also highlight the fact that PTI leaders, who were initially abusing him, changed their tone after his announcement about not going to D Chowk.

“Powers that be and Imran Khan both know that Maulana Fazl can gather hundreds of his supporters in Islamabad whenever he wants,” Solangi stated.

Solangi opined that the Maulana would definitely claim that he had weakened the government, strengthened the opposition parties and their narrative, adding that he would try to use the concessions the government made him as one of the positive effects of the march.

Moreover, Maulana Fazl would also claim that even with a few seats in the parliament, he had emerged as the leader of opposition on the streets as opposed to Shahbaz Sharif, who was the leader of opposition in the parliament.

“Maulana is not a leader of a small religious party. He has grabbed the attention of the political stakeholders part of the current political setup and has ended up becoming a national leader,” he viewed.

In his concluding remarks, Solangi stated that though Maulana Fazlur Rehman would be going back with some concessions, this did not mean that the danger for Imran Khan was over. “There is no guarantee there won’t be aftereffects of this protest. Maulana has completed round one,” he said.

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