LAHORE: Traders on Sunday announced they would launch a movement for ouster of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government, which, according to them, has completely failed to deliver and resolve the issues being faced by the public, including the business community.

They said the protest movement would start with a “massive demonstration” in front of the Prime Minister House (Islamabad) where a number of traders from all districts of Punjab would reach and raise voice for acceptance of their demands.

“We will be very happy if this government packs up since we believe that it is incompetent and cannot resolve the issues we have been facing for the last one and a half years,” All Pakistan Anjuman Tajran (APAT) secretary general Naeem Mir told Dawn. “We have also prepared a new charter of demands that will be presented to the government in front of the PM House. And if they don’t accept our demands, we will continue our movement,” he warned.

Plan ‘unique’ protest in front of PM House

Under a programme finalised during a video-conference of all provincial and regional heads of APAT and other traders’ organisations, the protest movement has been named “Horn Bajao—Hukmran Jagao” (blow the horn and awake the rulers).

The traders said that during the agitation, Covid-19 related standard operating procedures (SOPs) would be observed and the precautionary measures taken. As per the plan, the participants on cars and other vehicles will wear masks and first gather at Chakri (motorway). Later, they will join others coming through the GT Road and gather at a point in Rawalpindi. From there, they will move towards the Zero Point and honking horns, with headlights an indicators of their vehicles on, will reach in front of the PM House.

“We will distribute sweets if the government decides to pack up,” Mr Mir said, adding that the protest rally was likely to be held on July 15 or even before.

The traders’ bodies in the video conference were of the view that they cooperated with the PTI government a lot for the implementation of the Covid-19 SOPs. They said they suffered a huge financial loss due to closure of their businesses continuously for 60 days, and due to smart lockdown. They were of the view that this government has no ability to steer this country out of the crises the country was in.

“This will be a unique protest movement in view of the present situation (Covid-19). We are expecting attendance of traders in thousands riding cars,” Mir claimed.

He said their charter of demands includes opening of all restaurants, hotels, marriage halls and schools under SOPs, issuance of interest-free loans to traders, relief package for travel agents, issuance of a one-page income tax return form and suspension of all audit notices issued to traders.

SEALED: Various teams of the city administration on Sunday sealed as many as 50 shops for flouting Covid-19 SOPs. The teams also impounded over 20 buses and vans in this regard, according to a spokesman. Another team, according to the spokesman, also retrieved state land worth Rs30 million in the city.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2020