ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) has stepped up preparations ahead of its Oct 30 ‘siege of Islamabad’, with party office-bearers being briefed on how to carry out an information campaign ahead of the proposed protest.

PTI has also identified as many as 350 houses in the twin cities where women workers from Lahore, Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be lodged ahead of the sit-in to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over his role in the Panamagate scandal.

“Women workers will be accommodated at these houses during the protest in Islamabad to ensure they do not face any hardship,” former PTI Punjab North general secretary Zahid Kazmi told Dawn on Thursday.

He said the list of houses was presented to party chairman Imran Khan and that he had asked local party leaders to start mobilising people in their respective areas. The chairman will not tolerate any negligence, because the Oct 30 sit-in will be a do-or-die moment for the party, he said.

“All houses were volunteered by PTI workers and will provide respectable lodgings for women coming from other parts of the country,” he said when asked how the party was going to pay for these accommodations.

He said that there was no funding and the workers are working in motivation to clean the country from corruption and all the expenditure of the lodging would be bear by those who gave their houses to the party for dharna.

Talking about reports that police had prepared lists of PTI workers to prevent them from participating in the protest, he said that “friends of the party” in the twin cities’ administration and police had informed the party that the Punjab government was busy making lists, adding that they would stage sit-ins outside the offices of the Rawalpindi city police officer and Islamabad inspector general in case workers were arrested.

“Imran Khan will unveil the schedule for a meeting with party workers from all union councils of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Oct 16 at Banigala,” he said.

He said the party wanted to bring 200 workers from each union council of the twin cities and that a workers mobilization campaign had been launched through social media.

He claimed that Mr Khan would also visit the garrison city at a later date, which will also be decided on Oct 16.

But a senior PTI leader told Dawn that the party was worried about the formation of smaller groups in the twin cities, which was why the chairman had decided to reach out to workers himself.

A senior City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) official told Dawn that the provincial government was still undecided over issue as it did not know whether or not to stop PTI workers from entering Islamabad.

“The CDGR seek the home department’s help, but no directives have been issued yet,” he said.

“In a few days, local administrations and police will start preparing the security plan for the chehlum of Imam Hussain Ibne Ali, so it will not be possible for the party to hold its protest in Muharram,” he said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the PTI chief also met with members of the party’s ulema wing, as well as its multiple spokespersons, and advised them to be fully prepared before appearing on TV talk shows.

According to a party insider, the spokespersons were shown a special documentary with minute details on national economy and how endemic corruption had ruined public sector institutions.

Party leaders were also given a detailed briefing on how the faulty tax system is affecting the country.

Party leaders were also briefed on the poor state of education, health and other social sectors of the country.

He said in run up to October 30 rally, all party office bearers have been asked to arrange special gatherings at their respective levels and highlight importance of the accountability movement with special focus corruption by the ruling elite.

When asked, a second PTI source said that Mr Khan had repeatedly told ulema that they must use their influence to impress upon party followers that the rally is very important in the context of the Panama Papers leaks.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2016

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