LAHORE: In order to counter the ruling PTI’s plan to hold a rally at Islamabad’s D-Chowk on March 27, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has amended its plan to enter Islamabad on March 25, declaring that now it will camp there the same day.

“The long march will enter Islamabad on March 27 and it may stay there for two or more days. The decision has been taken in the light of directives of the party leadership — Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif,” Punjab PML-N’s secretary general Sardar Awais Leghari said.

Last week, the PDM had put back the arrival of its march in Islamabad to March 25 from March 23 because of the OIC foreign ministers meeting.

The PML-Q, a key ally of the PTI-led government, has advised both the ruling party and the opposition to call off their rallies as they could lead to a violent clash.

A PML-N leader told Dawn the decision to put back the marchers’ entry into the capital by two days had been taken to counter Prime Minister Imran Khan’s intent to ‘blackmail certain quarters’ (through demonstrations of street power).

The PML-N leadership has directed the party’s divisional, district and union council office-bearers to ensure their participation in the long march and mobilise workers for its success.

According to the schedule, the party will kick its trek from Lahore on March 24. Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N vice president, and Hamza Shehbaz will lead the cavalcade. It will reach Gujranwala the next day and stay there for the night. On March 26, the activists will leave for Rawalpindi, where contingents from other parts of the country will reach the next day and leave together for Islamabad.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a call to workers of his party to reach D-Chowk on March 27 for the country’s “biggest-ever rally”.

On Friday, Lahore woke up to the sight of banners carrying the slogan “Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Waqt ki majboori hai Shehbaz Sharif zaroori hai” (Shehbaz Sharif as PM is the need of the hour). This came on the heels of banners advocating the appointment of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as chief minister of the province.

One such banner read: “Punjab ki majboori hai Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi wazir-i-aala zaroori hai” (Punjab needs Mr Elahi as its chief minister).

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2022

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