PTI cancels Oct 29 rally, announces future course of action

Published October 28, 2016
Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chant anti-government slogans outside Imran Khan's residence in Islamabad. -Reuters
Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chant anti-government slogans outside Imran Khan's residence in Islamabad. -Reuters

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday cancelled a rally scheduled for October 29 with leader Shireen Mazari saying the resistance shown by PTI workers on Friday was kept to a minimum as the party plans to focus on its November 2 sit-in.

“A rally was scheduled earlier for Saturday for public mobilisation, but now that the public is already mobilised following the government crackdown, we see no further need to hold the rally tomorrow,” said a PTI official.

Shedding light on the future course of action, Mazari said responsibilities between PTI leaders have been divided and a “huge number of workers will reach Islamabad on the scheduled date from across the country, particularly from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where PTI is in power”.

“PTI’s sit-in is to ensure the prime minister’s resignation. We will not become part of any undemocratic or unlawful move,” stressed Mazri.

“Following a meeting between PML-N leaders and top military leaders, police lodged a crackdown on a peaceful convention organised by party’s youth wing,” claimed Mazari in reference to police storming PTI’s youth convention on Thursday.

PTI officials revealed that Asad Umar has been given the responsibility to coordinate with party workers and leaders of other political parties.

Meanwhile, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Jahangir Tareen have been asked to coordinate with the city’s administration from Bani Gala office.

Mazari also announced that Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence would now be the party headquarter.

The PTI leader expressed her views regarding the crackdown on political workers of PTI and the double standards of the government.

“The government succeeded today in restricting the top leaders of PTI to the Bani Gala residence, while allowing a proscribed organisation to stage a protest in the capital city.”

She further said that it is very strange that the administration allowed the “proscribed leaders of Difa-e-Pakistan Council to enter into Islamabad despite imposition of section 144”.

While talking to Dawn.com, another senior PTI leader said, “We are happy that government is escalating our movement and giving it a momentum through its irrational and unlawful conduct”.

'Sharifs have revealed their true authoritarian nature'

PTI Chairman Imran Khan raised questioned over the issue that why PML-N was allowed to hold rallies in KP on taxpayers money, while his party was barred from holding a peaceful protest.

He was of the view that Sharifs have revealed their true authoritarian nature by taking such undemocratic steps.

Tense atmosphere

The political atmosphere in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi turned tense with the PTI calling for countrywide protests on Friday after police stormed a youth convention of the party and arrested activists in the federal capital late on Thursday.

Despite the plans announced for today's protest, normal traffic could be witnessed on Murree road, the main artery connecting Rawalpindi and Islamabad, and education institutions, offices and businesses were functioning as per usual in the twin cities. However, the turnings on the road that lead to Lal Haveli where the AML gathering was going to take place were blocked with containers.

Furthermore, authorities suspended the Metro Bus Service in the twin cities "till further orders". And although skeleton staff was present, entrance gates of all bus stops have been locked for public since Thursday evening.

Section 144 was imposed in the twin cities a day earlier, leading to a ban on public gatherings and usage of loudspeakers.

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