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RAWALPINDI: The ruling PML-N, as well as the PTI and its ally the Awami Muslim League (AML), are finalising arrangements for their respective public rallies, to be held on the eve of Independence Day in the garrison city.

The PTI and Sheikh Rashid’s AML are holding a rally and a public meeting at Liaquat Bagh and Lal Haveli, respectively, while the PML-N is preparing for a public meeting on Iqbal Road the same day.

The PTI submitted an application with the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) for the security of the rally from Mareer Chowk in Rawalpindi to 8th Avenue in Islamabad.

PTI MPAs Arif Abbasi and Rashid Hafeez submitted the application to District Coordination Officer Talat Mehmood Gondal, mentioning that Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jehangir Tareen will lead the rally. However, the DCO was not available for comment.

Three days ago, PTI local leaders met to chalk out a plan for the rally from Rawalpindi to Islamabad. Imran Khan has formed a committee to make arrangements led by PTI Punjab (North) Amir Kiani and consisting of MPAs Ijaz Khan, Arif Abbasi, Asif Mehmood and local leaders Sadaqat Abbasi, Wasiq Abbasi, Chaudhry Asghar and Haroon Hashmi.

The meeting was held in the house of Amir Kiani in Islamabad and it set a target for each constituency to take part in the rally which would start from Liaqaut Bagh.

“Each MPA and party’s ticket holder will bring 2,000 people along with vehicles and join the main gathering at Liaquat Bagh,” a member of the committee told Dawn.

He said all the party workers and supporters would gather at Liaquat Bagh and march towards Islamabad at 3pm. He said the committee members would be responsible for the participation of people in the rally, their transport and other facilities. He said members would be starting door-to-door visits in their constituencies to mobilise citizens.

When contacted, PTI MPA Arif Abbasi told Dawn that the meeting was held to plan for the rally and assign duties to local leaders.

AML President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was hopeful of the success of his public meeting and said he had invited local religious leaders and seminarians to the public gathering.

“My public meeting is separate from PTI,” he said.

He said the basic aim of the AML’s public meeting was to highlight the corruption of the ruling elites and exposed them. “Panama Papers leaks exposed the ruling elites and time has come to get the answer from them about the illegal money transferred abroad.”

He said that PML-N was organising a public meeting just to disturb his meeting.

“The residents of the garrison city are mature and they know who is wrong and who is right and the result will come on August 13,” he said.

The PML-N also assigned the duties of the 40 union council chairmen to bring maximum numbers of people to the public meeting.

All traders’ associations were called to the office of former MNA Hanif Abbasi to ask them participate in the public meeting. The meeting union council chairmen and councillors were also held at Rawal Town Municipal Administration offices on Tuesday night where the PML-N local leaders assigned them to make arrangements for the transportation of people to public meeting.

“The traders demanded relaxation in taxes and resolution of matters pending with the local administration so that they would attend the public meeting,” said a senior leader of the PML-N.

However, PML-N former MNA Malik Shakeel Awan said that most residents of the garrison city belonged to PML-N and they would come to the public meeting for the sake of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2016