Firebrand cleric-cum-politician Maulana Fazlur Rehman has fired a fresh salvo at Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying the “Gorbachev of Pakistan” was heading a government that has its days numbered.
Speaking at a sit-in in Bannu city in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday, the hard-line cleric and leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) hit out at the prime minister for calling opposition leaders “thieves”, alleging that the “selected” government has offered National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) to Khan’s sister.
Rehman claimed the time for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf () government led by Khan was running out.
“The roots of this government have been cut. They have only a number of days left,” Rehman warned.
“Imran Khan has given his sister an NRO. Give us a similar sewing machine which can earn you Rs 70 billion in one year,” he was quoted as saying by the Geo News.
National Reconciliation Ordinance was an ordinance issued in October 2007 granting pardon to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism.
Rehman said Khan was trying to be the “Gorbachev of Pakistan”. He used the same expression to describe Khan earlier this month when he gave the prime minister two days deadline to tender his resignation.
The JUI-F chief was responding to Khan’s tirade from the previous day where he labelled Rehman’s anti-government protest as a “circus”.
Prime Minister Khan said on Monday that a “circus” took place in Islamabad in the name of ‘Azadi March’ protest.
He said the protesters could not even stay for a month in the capital as opposed to his party’s 2014 protest of 126 days.
Khan said the opposition leaders had ulterior motives, which is why they resorted to dharna politics on containers.
Earlier, Rehman led a massive anti-government protest rally, dubbed ‘Azadi March’, aimed at toppling the incumbent government.
The firebrand cleric had lambasted the government for failing on key domestic and foreign policy fronts. He said only Pakistan’s economy was going down whereas the economies of all other regional countries were going up.
Rehman launched his protest on October 27 from Karachi and arrived in Islamabad on October 31, leading a caravan of tens of thousands of followers.
He repeatedly said that the protestors would stay until Khan resigned and new elections were announced. The government also engaged him in talks but failed to make any headway as he refused to budge from the key demand of resignation of the Prime Minister.
Despite failure to achieve the objective immediately, it is believed that he gained politically by showing his power to assemble large crowds. The discipline and peace of the protestors were also acknowledged even by his opponents.
The opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People Party (PPP), had also thrown their weight behind the massive anti-government rally comprising thousands of protesters in Islamabad.
Rehman claimed on Tuesday that the protest had achieved its target and added the JUI-F did not go to the federal capital without any purpose.