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Pakistan opposition calls off road blockade, sit-ins


Supporters of Islamic political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) shout slogans as they block the Grand Trunk (GT) during a protest against the current government on the outskirts of Lahore on November 18, 2019. 

Islamabad: Pakistan's opposition has called off the blockade of major roads and highways and sit-ins aimed at ousting the Imran Khan government.

After a meeting of the opposition's Rehbar Committee, Pakistan's religious-political outfit Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani directed protesters to open all blocked roads starting Wednesday, Dawn reported.

Calling the Committee's decision as the "final word", Durrani announced the opposition will hold joint jalsas at the district level as part of the anti-government protest.

The JUI-F announced that the blockade was causing inconvenience to the people.

The blockade on at least 15 major roads was aimed at bringing the country to a standstill and forcing the Prime Minister to step down, Efe news reported.

The protest has been losing momentum since it started with a march in Karachi on October 27. The demonstration culminated into a massive protest rally in Islamabad on November 1 with tens of thousands of people taking part in it.

After 13 days in the capital without securing Khan's resignation, the JUI-F, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, announced the blockade of roads.

Other opposition parties, like the Pakistan Peoples Party, supported the protests in Islamabad but refused to participate in the blockade.

This was the big protest by the opposition since Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party was voted to power in the election last year.

Rehman has accused Khan of committing fraud in the 2018 election allegedly with the support of Pakistan's all-powerful military, which has ruled the country for a large part of its history since independence in 1947.

The Pakistan Army is known to exercise great influence even when the country is governed by democratically elected governments.

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