ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the country’s recent parliamentary history, Saturday witnessed a scuffle between the parliamentarians and workers of a political party with both sides using kicks and punches to overpower one another.
The central leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were allegedly manhandled by the workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) outside Parliament House when the former tried to hold a press conference in the midst of a protest-cum-solidarity gathering by the activists of the ruling party.
Responding to the call given on social media platforms, the PTI workers had gathered at D-Chowk outside Parliament House to denounce what they called sale of votes in recent Senate elections and to express solidarity with their leader Imran Khan.
A large number of personnel of law enforcement agencies, including police and Rangers, were deployed around the government buildings in the area and media persons had gathered around D-Chowk to cover the events both inside the parliament where the proceedings over a vote of confidence for Prime Minister Imran Khan were set to start by noon and the PTI workers’ gathering outside the building on the road.
Opposition parliamentarians were holding media talk when besieged by activists of ruling party
“We received a message from Marriyum Aurangzeb that she along with other senior PML-N leaders will hold a media talk at 11am outside Parliament Lodges,” said Waqar Satti, senior correspondent of Geo News.
It was decided by the camerapersons that the high ground overlooking both Parliament Lodges and Parliament House was the best spot to set the cameras.
“The PML-N leaders presented their routine narrative that the PM should resign and a group of PTI workers started chanting slogans against the PML-N and its leaders,” Mr Satti said, adding that soon the PTI activists moved in, standing right behind the PML-N leaders and raising high-pitch slogans.
The PML-N parliamentarians -- including Ms Aurangzeb, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Senator Musadiq Malik, Ahsan Iqbal, Miftah Ismail, Rana Sanaullah and Khurrum Dastgir Khan -- started moving to Parliament Lodges as the situation seemed to get out of control.
Most of the media persons too followed departing PML-N leaders as the PTI workers tried to chase them. However, Ms Aurangzeb remained at the spot and was surrounded by the enraged “Insafians” as the PTI workers call themselves.
“She was angrily arguing with them, who were all around her. Sensing that she has been trapped in the circle of men, Musadiq Malik rushed back and pushed away the PTI workers,” said Alamdar Hussain of Such TV.
“While most of the PTI workers were telling their colleagues to come back on the road, some seemed to enjoy the standoff with the PML-N leaders,” Mr Hussain said, adding that as Mr Malik seemed to be ready for a scuffle, many PTI workers started pushing him and Ms Aurangzeb.
“At this point somebody slapped Mr Malik on the back of his head, which enraged him and Mr Abbasi came to his aid. Both showered the man who had hit Mr Malik with punches and kicks, but he sped off towards the road,” Mr Hussain added.
Soon police swung into action and made a human wall keeping the workers on the road.
The PML-N leaders again held a media talk not only condemning the PTI workers but also challenging them for a show of physical power.
“I am Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, 62 years old and live at these hills. I challenge anyone of you, anyone, to come and fight with me,” he said. “If you are not taken away at the stretcher, if you are not taken away in an ambulance, then change my name.”
Following the episode while the PML-N leaders expressed triumph, somebody threw a Peshawari sandal at Ahsan Iqbal hitting him in the head as he stood along with Murtaza Javed Abbasi near the platform set up by media persons to place their microphones.
By noon, the PML-N leaders went to the Parliament Lodges and then to Sindh House, where the top leadership of the Pakistan Democratic Movement had gathered, while the PTI workers remained around D-Chowk up to 3:30pm.
Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2021