MULTAN: With the aim to stop the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) from holding its public gathering scheduled for Nov 30 here, containers have been placed around the venue, Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh, and police deployed outside, while the PPP announced that Aseefa Bhutto Zardari will attend the event.
The police and district administration have placed 30 containers around the stadium and more are being brought in to block roads leading to the city.
According to police sources, more than 200 workers of PDM constituent parties have been arrested and raids are being conducted to arrest more. The lists of workers, particularly from the PPP and PML-N, have been provided to respective police stations.
Kasim Gilani, the son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, tweeted a picture of the workers arrested from Shujaabad with one of them inserted with an intravenous drip.
Gilani says Aseefa to attend public event that will go on as planned ‘at any cost’
Re-tweeting the picture, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari commented: “Fascist regime continues to arrest Democratic activists in Multan. These puppets are scared of jiyalas. Try as they might they cannot stop PPP from marking our foundation day along with PDM leaders on 30th November.”
Talking to the media, former premier Gilani said Aseefa will participate in the public gathering, which is being held on the 53rd foundation day of the PPP, and Bilawal address the gathering through video link.
“The public gathering will be held at the location that has already been announced. Stadium Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh is the first, second and third option for the event. The government is afraid of the event and is using negative tactics by arresting political workers from across south Punjab,” he said.
He asserted that roads and the venue had been blocked by placing containers, but the rally will be held at any cost. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one public gathering of the opposition was held with the administration’s permission and the other without it.
“The government is victimising the PDM politically as the Jamaat-i-Islami has been granted permission to hold its gathering. Why have containers been placed when the government has turned down the application for permission to hold the event?” he questioned.
Gilani said so far more than 150 workers of PDM member parties from across south Punjab have been arrested, while those being released on bails are being warned against attending the rally.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that containers and food will be provided if the opposition succeeded in gathering 500 people. Containers have reached, but food is yet to be provided,” he remarked.
He further said that all the PDM leaders participating in the rally will be guests of the PPP. PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz is also a guest and all PDM member parties will welcome her. “I will invite Maryam Nawaz officially after the burial of her grandmother, while the decision regarding the speech of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will be taken by the PDM leadership,” he added.
The senior PPP leader said the government was spreading fear that there was a possibility of clashes in Multan in connection with the PDM’s public event. “Under which law containers have been placed, electricity of the stadium disconnected, the stadium filled with water and vendors stopped from providing sound system and making promotional banners? A flood of people on Nov 30 will send the government back,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, a large number of people reached Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh in groups after finding out that containers had been placed. They took pictures with the containers that were not only placed on all entry points to the historical fort, but also entrance gates of the stadium.
Our Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: The PPP has decided to politically launch Aseefa as her brother and party chairman, Bilawal, has quarantined himself after testing positive for Covid-19.
PPP Punjab Information Secretary Hassan Murtaza said Ms Bhutto would represent the party instead of the chairman in her maiden formal political appearance at the Multan rally of the 11-party opposition alliance, PDM.
Meanwhile, PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah declared that the Multan rally will be held at all costs.
Talking to the media outside the party’s Model Town secretariat in Lahore, he said if the government did not de-seal Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh, the entire city of Multan will become the venue of the public meeting.
He said the first phase of the PDM’s anti-government protests will be completed by holding the last event of the series in the Punjab capital on Dec 13, and the next phase will begin after the alliance leadership devises a new strategy.
He negated the impression that the PDM leadership was divided over any issue.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2020