PTI chief Imran Khan.—AP Photo

RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers and supporters were rejoiced to see their leader, Imran Khan, amongst them on Monday.

Riding a high-roof bulletproof vehicle and leading a convoy of 100 vehicles, Imran Khan arrived at the city’s downtown area for the first time since he announced his candidacy for the May 11 from there earlier this month.

As he traveled on the Benazir Bhutto Road, PTI workers showered rose petals on his vehicle, chanting slogans for his electoral success in this constituency and also for his premiership.

In his first public appearance in the garrison city for elections, the PTI chief started the campaign with a bang.

However, the inauguration of the party office at Benazir Bhutto Road near Chandni Chowk Flyover turned out to be mismanagement affair.

The pushing and shoving of PTI workers among themselves forced Imran Khan to leave the premises moments after formally opening the party office.

The local PTI leaders had created unruly scenes while attempting to get a picture with the PTI chief.

During the commotion, some workers also tumbled upon the electronic media’s cameras and mikes. However, no person was injured in the incident.

After the formal inauguration of his election office in NA-56, the PTI chief visited the city and it took three hours to reach his rally at the Lal Haveli of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed via the Kohati Bazaar.

On his way to the Raja Bazaar, the PTI chief received warm welcome from the people but the city witnessed a huge traffic jam due to his rally.

He also visited Banni Chowk, Iqbal Road and Sadiqabad before going to Bani Galla via Islamabad Expressway.

The PTI leaders claimed that the gathering was far greater than what the PTI leaders had expected. “We had not expected such a large number of people in the rally of Imran Khan in a short notice of just one day,” said Raja Tariq Kiani, PTI leader in Rawalpindi, while talking to Dawn.

He said the PTI chief had informed the party that he would visit the city on Monday, and the party workers and supporters then arrived in large numbers. “It is like the referendum before the election; Imran will win the seats from the district as well as from across the country,” he added.

Apart from the local leaders, supporters of PTI were also seen on the main roads, attempting to get a glimpse of Imran Khan.

“PTI is gaining popularity because of the wrong policies of the ruling parties, the Zardari led PPP and the Nawaz led PML-N,” said Mohammad Akram, a shopkeeper at Benazir Bhutto Road.

Farhan Ahmed, a resident of Banni Chowk, said he was impressed by the big rally. However, he said the same crowd would also be witnessed upon the arrival of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

“The rallies and public meeting was always arranged, and usually people are brought to these functions. You cannot predict the results just by seeing the public in meetings,” he said.

The local police provided one vehicle with a mobile phone jammer and two sections of Elite to the PTI chief and due to these inadequate security arrangements, the party leaders advised Imran Khan not to expose himself.

However, on the request of the youngsters, Imran Khan and his companion Sheikh Rashid came out of his bulletproof vehicle to wave to the supporters.

“PTI requested the local administration for the security in the garrison city on Monday, and the local police had been asked to provide foolproof security,” said a senior City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) official while talking to Dawn.

When asked whether PTI had the permission for the rally, he said the PTI sought security but had not asked for the permission.

“The permission is necessary for public meetings, not for a rally,” he added.

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