ISLAMABAD: On the second day of a purported crackdown against protesters of both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), both Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri decried the role of police and told them to “get your act together or face the consequences”.
Dr Tahirul Qadri, in an impassioned outburst, challenged the police to come after him. “Let them come to arrest me and we will see what happens. My protest will be the death of their regime, it’s just a matter of days,” he declared from atop his container on Constitution Avenue.
In his own outburst, Mr Khan called out the Islamabad police chief, saying, “I will not spare you Tahir Alam, when I become prime minister of Pakistan.”
“We will also register FIRs against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who are responsible for the killings of innocent people on August 30,” he said.
Punjab Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera was also not spared, as the PTI chief lambasted him for launching a crackdown against his party workers.
Earlier in the day, rowdy PTI supporters gathered at the Islamabad district courts in F-8 to protest the incarceration of their party colleagues, including D.J. Butt, who were supposed to be presented in court. PTI leader Azam Swati was arrested in the ensuing melee, while Andaleeb Abbas boarded a police vehicle and berated officials. Protesters also damaged a prison van that was to take prisoners to Adiala Jail and punctured its tyres.
Whither One Nation Day? While Saturday was supposed to be the celebration of the much-hyped ‘One Nation Day’, the PTI chief’s speech did not contain anything new or special. However, the turnout at D-Chowk was particularly impressive as many, heeding the PTI chief’s call, had descended upon the venue. In addition, many stayed at the venue for fear of arrests.
During his speech, Mr Khan also announced that he had his sights set on the governor houses in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and vowed to turn them into public parks. He also said he would convert Punjab House in Nathia Gali into a guest house to generate revenue and spend it on the underprivileged people of Pakistan.
“Our sisters and daughters have come to the sit-in without any fear of terrorist attacks but the government wants to instil fear among the PTI supporters through such announcements,” he said, referring to the Interior Ministry warnings regarding possible terrorist action at the sit-in.
He also called on all Pakistanis to pay their taxes according to their means and resources.
PAT lacking lustre: PAT supporters, meanwhile, spent a lazy day on Saturday as many were seen dozing on Constitution Avenue. Even Dr Qadri’s speech, which usually attracts a crowd, was not attended by the same multitudes that he is used to addressing.
Cognizant of this, Dr Qadri tried to rile up people’s emotions by addressing policemen. “Why are you picking up people here and there? Why don’t you just shoot us? It will bring the population down and you will have more opportunities to loot and plunder,” he said, sarcastically.
Published in Dawn, September 14th , 2014