‘Contained’: Imran, Qadri protest to the same tune

Updated August 21, 2014

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Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan (right) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri—File photo
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan (right) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri—File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) decided to call off talks with the federal government in protest of what it claimed to be the government’s efforts to prevent movement in Islamabad’s ‘Red Zone’. Moments after this announcement, Dr Tahirul Qadri addressed supporters, lambasting the government for restricting movement.

Senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the party has decided that the negotiations will stay suspended until the government stops the “crackdown against party workers”.

However, Maryam Nawaz took to twitter and said:

Speaking to Dawn, PTI leader and member of the negotiations committee Dr Arif Alvi claimed that the government is not serious about dialogue.

“They should tell us where they want to take this dialogue. They have ‘containerised’ us. It is impossible to get into or out of the Red zone,” said Alvi.

“We cannot negotiate with them as long as they continue with their crackdown (against party workers),” he said.

Additionally, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that PTI will not start the negotiation process with the government until additional containers – which have been placed again – are not removed.

PTI chairman Imran Khan has earlier claimed that the government has arrested over 4,000 PTI workers.

The announcement to call off talks comes after a delegation of PTI leaders – comprising Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen, Arif Alvi and Asad Umar – met a government-backed team of negotiators on Wednesday night. The government team included Abdul Qadir Baloch, Ahsan Iqbal and Ijazul Haq among others.

According to reports, the PTI delegation presented a six-point charter of demands, which included the demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

When contacted by Dawn.com, PTI founding member Imran Ismail claimed that there is no direct coordination between Imran and Qadri or PTI and PAT.

“Imran and Qadri have a common enemy in Nawaz,” he said. He termed the apparently coordinated announcements by both parties as a coincidence.


Qadri lambasts government


Meanwhile, in his address to workers today, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahrul Qadri said: “Nawaz, his government and their barbaric officers have put containers everywhere and not one person can enter or exit the red zone. These cruel animals…they have occupied the Parliament building.”

Qadri claimed the government was actively working to prevent supplies reaching the protesters.

Calling the current government “a pack of killers”, a fired up Qadri said his supporters were both “hungry and thirsty” and were allegedly only being supported by civil society and some parties.

Between the barrage of corruption charges targeting the Sharif brothers, the PAT Chief said he would “take revenge” for the killing of his workers. Avoiding direct incitement to violence, Qadri tempered his calls for “blood” by saying vengeance would be taken by the courts.

Qadri also alleged that the government would try to poison the crowd by sending over spoilt food.

Pledging that the protest would continue, Qadri reassured his supporters “an Inqilab doesn’t just come in a few days…please don’t tire or lose hope.”

Later onThursday night Qadri again addressed his supporter and delivered more rhetoric in his speech which criticised the Sharif brother and other incumbent legislators.