ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has altered its ‘Plan C’ in less than 24 hours after its announcement on Sunday.
The party leadership met at the Bani Gala residence of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday and decided to observe a strike in Lahore on Dec 15, instead of Dec 4 as planned earlier, and shut down the entire country on Dec 18, instead of Dec 16.
There is no change in the protest schedules for Faisalabad on Dec 8, and Karachi on Dec 12.
The plan for Lahore shutdown has been changed reportedly because the Jamaat-ud-Dawa has planned an event in the city on Dec 4 and 5.
When contacted, PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi said that although the Jamaat-ud-Dawa leadership had requested for a change of date, “we have revised our plan for Lahore shutdown primarily because of our own concerns and lack of time for making effective arrangements”.
The PTI’s Punjab chapter, particularly its leadership in Lahore, wanted more time to put up a good show.
Dr Alvi dismissed a perception that the date for the nationwide shutdown had been changed because Dec 16 was the day of the fall of Dhaka.
“Since we will go to Lahore on Dec 15, the date for a countrywide strike is shifted to Dec 18,” he said.
He said the change will also give an opportunity to the government to resume talks with the PTI.
Dr Alvi said PTI activists had remained peaceful over the past 110 days and they would remain so in future, but Imran Khan would not be able to keep them under control for a long time if the government did not respond positively to his offer of talks.
Talking to newsmen after the meeting, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his party’s workers and supporters would block main roads, but remain peaceful. “We will not force closure of markets, schools, etc.”
Dr Shireen Mazari said main arteries would be blocked to bring life to a halt.
Malik Asad adds: Addressing participants of his party’s sit-in at D-Chowk on Monday, Imran Khan said the PTI was the real opposition party and it would paralyse the country if its demand for poll rigging investigation was not met.
He said if the ‘Plan C’ did not produce the desired result, ‘Plan D’ was ready.
Mr Khan said the one-day shutdown was not worse than gas loadshedding for the industrial sector. If the economy could survive without gas supply to industries, it could also withstand a shutdown, he said.
“I don’t like shutdowns, but the government thinks that we have got exhausted and I want to dispel this impression.”
He said the PTI would not end its protest till the justice was done to it.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif started talking about the poor during a visit to Havelian in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday. “Thank God, he has finally started thinking about poor people.”
He accused the government of giving JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman the task of stopping PTI workers from attending their party’s Sunday rally at D-Chowk.
He asked the government to further reduce the prices of petroleum products because oil prices in the international market kept declining.
Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2014