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PTI to decide new date for Islamabad siege today

Updated October 17, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: Senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) will meet on Monday (today) to decide a new date for the party’s planned siege of Islamabad.

Talking to Dawn, PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “Certainly, decision has been taken to change the earlier date of Oct 30, and the new one will be announced after the Monday’s meeting.”

The reason behind the change of the plan, Mr Qureshi explained, was primarily due to the annual election of the Supreme Court Bar Association scheduled to be held on Oct 31. He said the PTI leadership had been conveyed the concern of lawyers that the planned siege of the capital on Oct 30 could disturb their election.

“Of course, the concern expressed by the lawyers’ leadership makes sense, and we have decided to change the date,” Mr Qureshi said.

In reply to a question about the new date, he said: “I think it will be after the SCBA elections.” He said that since there had been a widespread criticism of the PTI’s decision to shut down Islamabad during the weekend, “there is a big chance that our new date will fall on a working day”.

PTI chairman Imran Khan had announced the plan to lay siege to Islamabad as part of the party’s accountability movement against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks.

At the Monday’s meeting, according to a PTI source, the party leadership will also discuss measures to make the event a ‘great success’.

Mr Qureshi said it could be T20, one day or five-day test match, and if the government didn’t behave, “we are even ready for a tournament”.

“Other political parties in particular and the masses in general must understand that the accountability movement is not for the removal of the prime minister or power grab by the PTI, but to bring the former to the dock,” he said.

On the other hand, a government official said the ruling PML-N leadership was watching every move of Imran Khan and working on a multi-pronged strategy to handle the PTI protest movement against the prime minister and his family.

The official said the government, with the help of other opposition parties, would first try to make the PTI agree on the proposed commission for investigation into the Panama Papers leaks and then fight its case at all available legal forums, including the ECP and Supreme Court, where the PTI had filed petitions.

And if the PTI continues to insist on its planned movement, the government will take all other political forces on board for a collective response as it did during the party’s sit-in in 2014, said the official.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2016