LAHORE: A PML-N ‘rebel’ MPA announced on Monday holding a rally apparently with the support of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in Gujranwala to ‘counter’ Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)’s first political show in Punjab on Oct 16.

Ashraf Ansari, who has recently been expelled from the party, called on Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Monday and announced holding the ‘Love Pakistan’ rally in Gujranwala on the day the PDM announced its rally against ‘Prime Minister Imran Khan and those who brought him to power’.

The PML-N says Mr Buzdar-backed show of the PTI supporters will set a clash with the PML-N workers, thus he should refrain from maneuvering a counter rally.

MPA from Gujranwala Ansari told Dawn the purpose to hold a rally on Oct 16 was to express solidarity with the state institutions.

“Whole Gujranwala will come out in the ‘Love Pakistan’ rally to give a strong message to those who are spewing venom against the state institutions,” he said.

Mr Ansari said that after the PML-N’s anti-army stance, its own voters had turned against it.

“It is no more a strong-hold of the PML-N,” he said.

To a question whether this rally enjoyed the support of the chief minister and the PTI, he said: “It enjoys the support of the patriotic people of the country.”

PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bokhari told Dawn that this move would cost the government dearly.

“If PTI-backed Ansari rally is allowed on Oct 16, the clash between the PML-N and PTI supporters is the writing on the wall,” she forewarned.

The PML-N lawmaker expressed her surprise as to how a government could be so naïve to set a clash instead of avoiding it.

“If any clash happens, Mr Buzdar will be responsible for this,” she said and added the PTI should not forget about stone-pelting at Imran Khan during his long-march rally in 2014.

“The people of Gujranwala are very emotional and attached to the PML-N leadership… and the Punjab government should think twice before planning a rally on the same day the PDM is going for its political show,” Ms Bokhari said.

Earlier, the PML-N had separately planned the rally in Gujranwala Stadium on Oct 16 but on Monday announced making it a PDM show.

The PML-N last week expelled its five MPAs who had met Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar without the permission of its leadership.

Nishat Ahmed Daha and Faisal Niazi from Khanewal, Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharaqpuri from Sheikhupura and Muhammad Ghiasuddin from Narowal are other MPAs expelled from the PML-N.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2020


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