- Without removing flaws in the election process
Maulana Fazlur Rahman had announced the date for what he calls the Azadi March without consultations with the two major opposition parties, the PML(N) and PPP, which were not mentally prepared for the agitation. After former PML(N) chief Nawaz Sharif put his weight behind the march, is party is left with no option other than joining the move. .
The JUI(F) chief had called into question the credibility of the 2018 elections and demanded fresh polls. While there can be two opinions about the need for fresh elections a year after a government is sworn in, the demand violates no democratic norms. As the PTI had itself agitated on the basis of a similar demand in 2014, it has no moral justification to dismiss it as undemocratic.
It is still unclear what precise means Maulana Fazlur Rehman wants to adopt for getting the resignation of an elected government which is adamant on completing its tenure and is not tired of reiterating that the Army is on the same page with it. In April the Maulana warned his party would lock down the federal capital if the PTI government did not step down. In August he promised to oust the present “fake government” through a decisive march.
The Maulana’s agenda too remains unclear. Earlier the emphasis was on protection of religious seminaries, the belief in the finality of the Holy Prophet and the Islamic and democratic status of the Constitution. Later the JUI(F) chief highlighted more mundane issues like rising poverty, bad governance and violation of basic rights.
While the opposition has called into question the fairness of the last elections it has done pretty little in Parliament to remove the lacunae that made the exercise questionable. The government is largely to blame for manipulating the appointment of two members of the ECP. The court has now sent the matter back to Parliament. Unless the Prime Minister is willing to hold meaningful talks with the leader of the opposition the ECP might become non-functional after the retirement of the CEC in December.
The government should not put hurdles in the way of the march. The JUI(F) should do nothing that violates law and order, restricts free traffic or causes damage to property.