KARACHI: Several Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers, led by its senior leader Ahsan Iqbal, and Rangers personnel came face to face on Thursday when the paramilitary troops prevented the former from performing ‘symbolic opening’ of the Green Line bus service at the project site, leading to brawl and scuffle between the two sides a day before Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to open the much-awaited transport scheme.
It all began when a number of workers of PML-N’s Karachi chapter in line with the plan to hold a symbolic opening of the project started converging at one of the bus stations in North Nazimabad and were later joined by senior leaders, including former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair and former federal finance minister Miftah Ismail.
Amid slogans and charged atmosphere, the PML-N leaders and workers, however, were stopped by a heavy contingent of Pakistan Rangers from advancing to the pedestrian bridge where the party had arranged a stage for the ceremony.
Led by their leaders, the PML workers faced resistance from the Rangers personnel carrying sticks. The situation turned tense when Mr Iqbal came forward and started arguing with a paramilitary officer insisting on exercising his democratic and legal rights. At this moment the scuffle between the two sides further intensified and amid slogans and noise of the workers, the paramilitary troops stopped them forcefully.
Party claims Ahsan Iqbal, a female worker injured during baton-charge
In the process, the PML-N claimed, Rangers also resorted to baton-charge that left Mr Iqbal and a female worker injured. The party workers dispersed and the ceremony was formally called off, but the PML-N leaders addressed the media at the site. They called the Rangers’ move state terrorism and demanded that the military leadership take notice of the paramilitary force’s action.
“We came here to organise a peaceful and simple symbolic opening ceremony of Green Line which everyone knows is a project of Nawaz Sharif,” said Mr Iqbal.
“But we don’t know under which law we were stopped by the Rangers. It didn’t end here. When we questioned their move, they restored to the worst state terrorism. I hope that military leadership would take notice of the Rangers action,” the PML-N leader added.
Showing brusises over his left hand due to the baton-charge, he called it political vendetta of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government which had ordered the paramilitary force to attack PML-N workers and media.
Spokesman for Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nzwaz and former Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair said the Green Line bus project was a gift from the former prime minister to Karachiites and advised PM Imran Khan that he didn’t need to visit Karachi.
“It’s a project of the PML-N and workers of the party have inaugurated this project today. You [PM Imran Khan] don’t need to come to Karachi,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2021