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Advocacy group warns against use of military force on 'Azadi March' participants in Pakistan

The VoK core committee made these remarks after an `emergency meeting` in Washington, which discussed the `Azadi March` in Islamabad led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F`s (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the situation developing in its aftermath.

Advocacy group warns against use of military force on 'Azadi March' participants in Pakistan
Image Courtesy: Reuters

Washington: The Voice of Karachi (VoK) has urged Imran Khan-led Pakistan government and military establishment to refrain from the use of forces against the participants of `Azadi March` in the country. The VoK warned that the use of force against peaceful participants of the march could 'trigger violence' in Islamabad "leading to a situation Pakistan can hardly afford at the moment".

The VoK core committee made these remarks after an `emergency meeting` in Washington, which discussed the `Azadi March` in Islamabad led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F`s (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the situation developing in its aftermath. VoK chairman Nadeem Nusrat presided the meeting of the core committee. Nadeem Nusrat stated that Pakistan and its 200 million-strong population are facing serious challenges since the current ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has taken a charge following the last year`s "dubious election".

Fast deteriorating economic condition, growing international isolation, exceptionally high unemployment rates, sky-high inflation, and growing crackdown against political rivals of the ruling party and anti-establishment voices are all pushing the country to complete anarchy. The ongoing Azadi March kickstarted from Karachi`s Sohrab Goth area on October 27 amid a massive show of strength by the party workers from other opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People`s Party (PPP), and Awami National Party (ANP), Dawn reported.

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The chairman termed the recent statement made by Pakistan Army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor "irresponsible" and "polarising". Ghafoor on November 2 stated that the Pakistan Army would not allow any effort to harm to the national stability and support the government within the ambit of the constitution. The VoK chairman said that there is consensus in and outside the country that Pakistani military establishment played the decisive role in the victory of Prime Minister Imran Khan`s PTI party in the last election.

"More and more people are now openly blaming the current army chief for putting a puppet government in power which not only came into power through manipulation, it has also miserably failed to live up to the expectations to even its staunchest supporters. Pakistan, which was already in a deep financial and political crisis, is now facing an existential threat due to the totally incompetent policies of the current handpicked government that Pakistan`s powerful military establishment has so laboriously put in power," he said.

The US-based advocacy group said that Pakistan needs restructuring into new administrative units according to 1940's Lahore Resolution, which is the only way to create a sense of belonging among the country`s non-Punjabi ethnic groups and religious minorities. It would be futile to expect real peace, progress and prosperity in Pakistan without its restructuring. The military operations in Karachi, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit Baltistan must be stopped with immediate effect and confidence-building measures must be initiated to bring the masses of these deprived regions into the national fold.

"Since Pakistan at the moment is under the total control of its military establishment, the major responsibility now lies on the shoulders of Pakistani military leadership to create a conducive environment for a national dialogue and build a consensus to address the grievances of the deprived masses of Pakistan. This is a `now or never` like situation for Pakistan, and any further delay will make the country face irreversible damage," the VoK leadership concluded.