Byline: Kalbe Ali and Amir Wasim
ISLAMABAD -- Despite harsh weather and pressure from his allies to defuse the political crisis, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman continued to stick to his guns, extending the anti-government sit-in at least till Sunday.
Addressing the Azadi march participants after they braved heavy rain and a chilly night on Wednesday, the sixth day of the sit-in, the Maulana announced that his party had decided to organise a Seerat Conference to mark the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) at the sit-in venue on 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal, falling on Sunday.
The announcement was made by the Maulana after presiding over separate meetings of the party's Majlis-i-Shoora and working committee and his meeting with Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
Mr Elahi, who is also a member of the government's negotiating team, met the Maulana in his personal capacity as no formal contact was made throughout the day between the government committee and the opposition's Rehbar Committee.
'Is it not our national duty to topple this government?' the Maulana asked the Azadi march participants, who replied in the affirmative.
It is interesting to note that Maulana Fazl has not set any new deadline for the acceptance of his demand after the expiry of the first 48-hour deadline on Sunday.
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Sources in the opposition told Dawn that the members of other opposition parties had expressed concern over the JUI-F leadership's decision to prolong the sit-in.
Leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) are of the view that the JUI-F should not test the patience of such a large number of people and should find a way out to end the sit-in as early as possible.
The sources said the other opposition parties feared that prolonging of the sit-in might result in some tragedy as the participants could take any step out of frustration.
A member of the National Party (NP), which is presently supporting and participating in the sit-in, told Dawn that the Maulana had been advised to end the sit-in after giving a call for a nationwide protest which could be held at district and tehsil levels.
The sources said the opposition parties were of the view that prolonging the sit-in could damage their cause for which they had been struggling as after...