Police arrest scores of PTI workers at youth convention, Imran calls for countrywide protests
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Thursday gave a call for countrywide protests for October 27 after Islamabad police stormed PTI’s youth convention in Islamabad and arrested scores of party activists.
Imran, while addressing a press conference following the arrests of his workers, said his workers and and the planned sit-in on November 2 was planned to be peaceful.
"We told the government that we would remain peaceful if they had remained peaceful. Now the movement will take a different direction," said the PTI chairman.
He reiterated the call for countrywide protests on Friday and said the police can arrest him if they want "under Section 144".
Imran also questioned the current democratic system in the country and said, "What kind of a democracy is in Pakistan when we are jailed for practicing our democratic right".
Following the PTI chief's press conference, PTI workers took to the streets in different cities of the country and held sit-ins at major thoroughfares. Cities where PTI workers were staging sit-ins are Karachi, Multan, Peshawar and other major cities.
Meanwhile, two separate FIRs were registered against 43 PTI activists in Kohsaar and Golra police stations under Section 188 of Pakistan Penal Code over violation of Section 144, DawnNews reported.
Earlier in the evening, PTI leader Asad Umar said, “State injustice cannot stop us from protesting and the government is afraid of PTI’s democratic protest”.
Asad was of the view that there is no democracy in Pakistan. “Government has proved that there is no democracy in Pakistan, rather it is a monarchy,” he said.
PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi alleged the government had arrested hundreds of its workers and police tortured the female workers of the party as well.
“Hundreds of PTI workers were arrested and female workers were tortured by the police,” claimed Qureshi. “We are going to meet to IG Islamabad and discuss the situation.”
Police transferred the arrested PTI workers through police vans to Police station Kohsaar and Golra, also sealing the hall where the convention was being held. The arrests were made under Section 144.
Imran Khan calls for countrywide protests on Friday
PTI chairman Imran Khan has announced countrywide protests on Friday against state aggression, DawnNews reported.
He announced this during an emergency meeting in Bani Gala which was attended by senior party leaders.
Qureshi, while talking to media, said: “We demand release of the workers arrested by the police, if they are not released then the authorities will be responsible of outcomes."
Asad Umer alleged that the government had threatened the hotel owners, printers and market owners to not cooperate or deal with the PTI workers.
A female party worker, while talking to media, said that, “The police who are supposed to protect us were abusing us.”
‘Clear divide between autocratic and democratic values’
PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi demanded from IG Islamabad and the commissioner of Islamabad to immediately release the PTI workers who were arrested today.
He warned the administration of the federal capital that they would be held responsible if the situation worsens.
“You are provoking peaceful people. No one here was armed, not a single worker had stones or batons in their hands. Peaceful youth workers were present here and the police tortured them,” said Qureshi.
“There is a clear divide between autocratic and democratic values today.”
The PTI leader questioned under what law was the youth convention stormed by law enforcement agencies.
“Under what law was the convention centre stormed? The party workers present at the location were peaceful and had come to listen to us, as their leaders,” said the PTI leader.
Qureshi also appealed to PTI workers across the country to come out on the streets and take part in the sit-in on November 2.
“We will stay peaceful but at the same time will advance on Islamabad to bury this corrupt administration,” threatened Qureshi.
The PTI announced November 2 as the date for their planned sit-in in the federal capital.
The party has also prepared a strategy to tackle the sit-in and any possible crackdown against the party.
The workers have been asked to gather at Faizabad, from where they will march towards Zero Point under Imran’s leadership.
“Blocking Zero Point will render Kashmir Highway, I.J. Principal Road, Murree Road and Islamabad Expressway closed and the federal capital will be in lockdown,” a senior official had told Dawn.
“Party leaders are of the view that the government will close the roads themselves, helping the party’s plan to besiege Islamabad,” he said.
If PTI workers are arrested ahead of the lockdown of the capital city, the party plans to lay siege to the police station where they will be held.
PTI leadership has also directed party workers to avoid arrest and "if anyone arrested, then more than 200 workers will immediately reach that police station."