ISLAMABAD: Seven years after the famed Azadi march of 2014, workers of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) gathered again at D-Chowk on Saturday, expressing both anger and solidarity with the parliamentary proceedings.
Responding to invitations floated through social media platforms, the PTI workers gathered at the D-Chowk in hundreds to express anger over what they termed a breach of trust by MNAs in the Senate elections when the party candidate Dr Hafeez Sheikh lost to Yousuf Raza Gillani, a joint candidate of the opposition parties.
“But we are here to express solidarity with Prime Minister Imran Khan and give a message to those who claim that he has lost public support,” said Aqsa, a student of Quaid-i-Azam University, who had come to the place in a group of female students.
However, in their excitement, the PTI workers violated laws, including initiating an attack on PML-N parliamentarians, slaughtering animals on the roads. Two PTI supporters even rode up to the Constitution Avenue on horseback which is not allowed anywhere in the federal capital.
The ruling party workers not only came from the twin cities and adjoining areas but also from far-off places of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Seven years after Azadi march, activists turn up at venue not only from twin cities but from far-off places of KP
Shah Khalid, chairman district council Lower Dir, arrived at D-Chowk along with a group of friends and colleagues.
However, like many of the participants, he expressed displeasure over scuffles between his party’s workers and PML-N parliamentarians.
“This was not a pre-planned move but some workers got enraged by the overall attitude of the opposition parties,” Mr Khalid said, adding: “But I too am an elected person and we (politicians) have to be open-minded and ignore such incidents.”
Many in the gathering disliked the scuffles but there were strong views too, especially among female supporters of the ruling party.
“We are all disheartened by the triumph expressed by the opposition parties over a wrongdoing in the recent polls,” said Ms Gulrez, referring to the past political actions of PPP and the PML-N. She said these parties have no principles.
“Now when you instigate workers by calling their leaders with nonsense names it is fair,” she said. “But I tell you it was all pre-planned by PML-N to disturb our gathering, they tried to exploit Ayesha Gulalai and Reham Khan too. Is that fair politics?”
However, her husband retired Maj Gulrez maintained that political workers have to be disciplined.
The number of supporters was limited by noon but it swelled after the scuffle was shown on electronic media, and majority of them said the PML-N leaders should not have held a press conference right in the middle of a gathering of their opponents.
Besides, one group of enthusiasts even brought a camel to D-Chowk and slaughtered it to ward off any bad omen on their leader.
“We have given this sadqa, so that Imran Khan remains safe from all evil deeds of PML-N and PPP,” said Qaiser Kiani, central vice president of PTI traders’ wing.
But he did not know that slaughtering an animal in the open on the main road was illegal at least in Islamabad.
The act of solidarity by the traders’ wing of the party placed the CDA staff in trouble who had to dispatch a special team to clean the blood spilled on the road and lift the offal.
Similarly, some resorted to fireworks right outside the gate of the Parliament House, which was also illegal, to celebrate the success of the premier as he obtained the required number of votes in the National Assembly.
The slogan chanting, selfie sessions and media talk by the PTI workers continued till 3:30pm when they dispersed after being addressed by PTI parliamentarians Murad Saeed, Qasim Suri, Shibli Faraz, Faisal Javed, Saifullah Niazi and others.
Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2021