LAHORE, April 7,2005: The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) has urged the government to abandon its plan to hold women’s marathons in various cities and issued a warning that supporters of the religious alliance will use force to stop any such race if the plan is not dropped.
MMA’s Secretary General Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday directed followers of the alliance across the country to act against what he called obscenity and vulgarity and stop such races.
The matter came under discussion at a meeting of MMA’s supreme council in Mansoora, and Maulana Fazl announced its decisions at a news conference at the Camp Jail where he had come, along with a number of other leaders, to visit detained leaders and workers of the alliance.
Qazi Husain Ahmed presided over the meeting after which he underwent heart surgery at a local hospital. Maulana Fazl said in an aggressive tone that religious parties would not allow the government to impose Western culture on Pakistan.
He claimed that even the family of the Punjab chief minister would support the MMA’s point of view on the issue of marathon races. Professor Sajid Mir, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, Liaquat Baloch, Riaz Durrani and Pir Ijaz Hashmi were present at the news conference.
Maulana Fazl also demanded restoration of the 1973 Constitution, an independent foreign policy, legislation in accordance with the recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology, steps in the budget to control prices and unemployment and measures to eradicate vulgarity.
He said the alliance would continue its struggle for fulfilment of the demands. The MMA leader said the alliance would observe Friday (April 8) as a day of protests against the marathon. The day, he said, would also be observed to express solidarity with the people of Palestine.
He thanked traders, businessmen and transporters for their positive response to MMA’s April 2 strike call. He said a successful strike and people’s participation in large numbers in the ‘million marches’ had demonstrated the nation’s confidence in the alliance.
He demanded the release of all detained leaders and activists of the MMA by April 15, and said if the demand was not met, the alliance would hold a procession from Gujranwala to Lahore on April 16.
Maulana Fazl dismissed a point that MMA’s rally would adversely affect the PPP’s programme to accord a warm welcome to its leader Asif Ali Zardari who is schedule to land in Lahore on that day. “They have their programmes and we have ours,” he said. He said more marches would be organized in April and May and a schedule would be announced soon.