KARACHI /ISLAMABAD: Authorities on Saturday allowed the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) to stage a rally in Sohrab Goth, instead of Bagh-i-Jinnah, in Karachi on Sunday (today) while PTM office-bearers alleged that five workers had been “taken away by law enforcers”.

A police official told Dawn that the authorities had given permission to the PTM to stage a rally at the ground near Al-Asif Square in Sohrab Goth with ‘certain conditions’. Mohsin Dawar, a PTM leader, confirmed this.

He alleged that the PPP-led Sindh government had “deliberately sabotaged” their plan for a rally at Bagh-i-Jinnah near the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah on Saturday.

He said they had already announced a plan for a rally at the venue on May 12 but suddenly the PPP announced its rally at the same venue on the same day. Therefore, it was not possible for the PTM to hold a rally at the venue even on Sunday because the venue would be littered with chairs and other stuff left behind by the PPP rally.

Leader alleges five activists of movement ‘taken away’; Pashteen allegedly denied air travel to Karachi from Islamabad

Therefore, Mr Dawar said, they obtained permission to stage a rally at Sohrab Goth on May 13.

He alleged that three PTM workers had been “taken away” when they were on their way to hold talks with government officials on Friday night to seek permission for Sunday’s rally. Two more workers had been “taken away by law enforcers” on Saturday, he added.

The PTM office-bearer said that their nine workers and supporters were already ‘missing’ in the city.

Meanwhile, after “being denied” air travel — first from Islamabad and then from Lahore — PTM chief Manzoor Ahmed Pashteen finally proceeded to Karachi by road on Saturday to attend the rally in the city on Sunday.

Talking to Dawn by telephone while crossing Okara, Mr Pashteen claimed that he had booked a seat on a private airliner from Islamabad to Karachi on Saturday morning. When he reached the check-in counter, he was refused the boarding pass on “technical grounds” and was told that there was no booking in his name.

However, his three colleagues were issued boarding passes and they departed for Karachi in the flight, Mr Pashteen said.

An official of the airline confirmed that Mr Pashteen was not issued the boarding pass because his booking was not there in the system. In response to a question, he denied that the airline had cancelled the booking after receiving instructions from somewhere.

Mr Pashteen said then they travelled by road to Lahore to catch another flight from there, but alleged that he was prevented from reaching the airport through strict checking at a check-post near Lahore airport.

The PTM leader said that he was now on his way to Karachi by road.

Meanwhile, students, intellectuals and political activists gathered at the National Press Club in Islamabad on Saturday to protest the alleged crackdown against PTM organisers and activists in Karachi ahead of the rally.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2018