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PPP workers protest over Zardari’s arrest

June 11, 2019

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PPP leaders and supporters protest outside the press club on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
PPP leaders and supporters protest outside the press club on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Scores of Pakistan Peoples Party workers staged a demonstration in Karachi on Monday in protest over the arrest of former president Asif Ali Zardari by the National Accountability Bureau in Islamabad.

Led by provincial ministers and key members of the Sindh cabinet, the workers converged outside the Karachi Press Club to lodge a strong protest against the NAB action.

As soon as the news regarding Mr Zardari’s arrest reached here, PPP workers started gathering outside the People’s Secretariat — the party’s Sindh headquarters — near the Quaid’s mausoleum.

Within an hour, a sizeable number of workers were there and on the directives of their leadership started moving towards the press club, where the show turned powerful and aggressive.

The workers, including women, were carrying placards and chanting slogans against the government and NAB. They called the accountability process “biased” and a “vendetta” against the PPP and its leadership.

Party to observe ‘black day’ today

Addressing the protesters, PPP leaders warned that the party could paralyse the federal government if it was not allowed to hold peaceful protest in other parts of the country.

Although the protest was restricted to the press club and adjoining roads only, a number of workers were seen aggressively protesting against Mr Zardari’s arrest by burning tyres on roads to block vehicular traffic.

The traffic movement turned slow and gradually a large number of vehicles got trapped in a traffic mess on I.I. Chundrigar Road, M.R. Kayani Road, Sarwar Shaheed Road and Abdullah Haroon Road.

Arrest condemned

Speaking on the occasion, PPP leaders including provincial ministers Nasir Hussain Shah, Syed Awais Qadir Shah, cabinet members Waqar Mehdi, Rashid Rabbani and others challenged the NAB move and questioned the transparency process “in the name of accountability”.

“How can you [NAB] arrest a former president of the country in the name of a mere inquiry without filing charges,” asked Transport Minister Awais Shah. “It is not accountability. It’s just a vendetta targeting the PPP and its leadership, which has been giving tough time under the leadership of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to the puppet government. Such moves cannot shake our courage and suppress our voice against the selected government.”

‘Black day’ today

The party announced that it would observe Tuesday as a “black day” against the arrest of Mr Zardari.

PPP’s Sindh chapter president Nisar Khuhro said that party workers would wear black armbands at the district headquarters across the province in protest over the former president’s arrest.

“We have always respected the judiciary and its decisions,” said Mr Khuhro. “But holding a peaceful protest is the democratic right of every citizen and our party has always struggled for the rights of the people. We have the right to protest peacefully against the NAB move. I warn the PTI government that it could not hide its incompetence by arresting opposition leaders.”

He said that the PPP chairman had issued very clear directives to party workers to stay peaceful.

He said that “peaceful protests” would be held across the province. The protests would prove the “beginning of the end” for the PTI government.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2019