LAHORE - The JI, which is playing the role of mediator between its ally PTI and the government, has once more failed to convince Imran Khan and his top party men to terminate their ‘Azadi March’ after putting forward their demands to the rulers, it is reliably learnt.
JI chief Sirajul Haq held a meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan at latter’s residence on Monday to discuss the prevailing political issues. According to PTI sources, JI chief has asked PTI top leadership to culminate their march on August 14 after presenting their demands concerning electoral reforms and not prolong the campaign for indefinite time with the aim to send the government packing.
Siraj reportedly told the PTI leadership that he could make efforts for a freeway for their march to Islamabad if Imran and his colleagues were ready to reach a middle way with the rulers.
But, PTI chairman only gave the JI chief assurance of a peaceful march provided the ruling party would not employ any mischief, the sources said. There was no other commitment made on Imran’s part, they added.
The sources quoted the senior party leaders as saying that they have mobilised the workers at a scale of general elections campaign and it was beyond the power of Imran and other top leaders to withdraw the highly charged party activists without getting anything big on immediate basis to end the Azadi March on August 14.
A JI leader close to party high command told this scribe that their leadership would continue efforts for the peaceful launch and culmination of the ‘Azadi March’, there being PTI coalition partner and mediator between the government and its ally. He added that JI leadership could join the ‘Azadi March’ only to ensure peace and tranquillity between the two sides at the possible climax of the march.
PTI chairman Imran Khan, addressing the party leaders and workers gathered at his residence to welcome him, said: Neither army nor police will stop the marchers of Azadi, as they will definitely support their people and not the illegitimate rulers.
He asked the party men to prepare for a march which would not culminate till sending the ‘Kingship in the name of democracy’ home and for this purpose they should take along food rations and other essentials.
Rejecting reports of living in a luxury container during the sit-in in Islamabad, he said: I will sleep on the street along with my party men. He added: I and my supporters will not return till the restoration of real democracy. Imran warned: We will sweep all the hurdles on our way to Islamabad and Gullu Butts will be dealt with according.
Sirajul Haq in his brief talk with the media after meeting with PTI chief insisted: Imran has assured him that the Azadi March will remain peaceful. The march will pose no threat to the constitution and democracy and it will not make any bid to dislodge the govt. Amid a volley of questions over JI’s participation in Azadi March, he left PTI chairman’s residence with a smiling face and without replying to the queries. He resorted to perplexing the news men with a vague remark: We are with constitution and democracy.
Ahead of Azadi March, first minor skirmish between PTI and PML-N workers took place on two sides of the canal. One side of the canal, near Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence, was under the control of thousands of PTI supporters, while on the other side were PML-N workers who were going to take part in an anti-Qadri protest.
The political rivals raised slogans against each other’s leaderships and pelted each another with stones, but after a brief encounter both sides dispersed upon the intervention of some saner people from among them. However, this minor skirmish has established the point that both sides were ready to challenge each other physically during the course of Azadi March.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan, who reached his residence from Allama Iqbal International Airport with hundreds of party men, was accorded a warm welcome by thousands of party supporters who started gathering at party chairman’s residence since early Monday.
PTI activists chanted slogans like ‘Bye Bye Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif! Long Live Upcoming Prime Minister Imran Khan!’