PTI puts off Karachi rally

Published August 19, 2022
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

• Party announces schedule of public meetings in 17 cities
• Will take anti-govt drive ‘beyond rallies’ if Shehbaz, cabinet don’t step down, warns Fawad

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Just hours before announcing the postponement of yet another rally of former prime minister Imran Khan in Karachi, senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claimed on Thursday that the party had rebuilt the recent momentum to push the ruling coalition in the centre to resign by Sept 10 and announce general elections.

They warned that if Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet didn’t step down, the PTI would take its anti-governm­ent campaign “beyond rallies and protests”.

Earlier this week, the PTI had decided to hold a series of rallies across the country, starting from Karachi on Aug 19 and led by party chairman Imran Khan himself, to mount pressure on the government to announce snap polls. However, on the eve of the planned demonstration in Karachi on Thursday, the party’s city chapter issued a statement announcing its postponement.

“Due to the ongoing weather conditions and heavy rains, the Karachi rally and chairman Imran Khan’s visit scheduled for August 19 has been postponed,” said the statement, adding that the rally will now be held on Aug 26 and addressed by Mr Khan. Previously, Mr Khan’s rally in the run-up to the local bodies polls in Karachi had been postponed last month.

Addressing a news conference at the party’s election office in the NA-245 constituency, where by-election is scheduled for Sunday, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said: “Our current movement that includes rallies in different cities would actually go till Sept 10. If this government doesn’t resign by then and announce general elections, this [anti-government movement] will not stop here; it will go beyond rallies. And for that we will devise a comprehensive strategy.”

Flanked by former Sindh governor Imran Ismail and the party’s candidate for NA-245 Mahmood Maulvi, Mr Chaudhry expressed least interest when asked about the offer from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss a charter of economy with all stakeholders, including the PTI, and instead called for unity and consensus among political parties on “more important issues”.

He demanded an independent medical board to examine the health of party leader Shahbaz Gill. “We also request the judiciary to look into the matter as a case of hu­­m­an rights,” he said. “The Islamabad police chief and DIG should be summoned [by co­­urt] and asked who brutally tortured Shah­baz Gill. His health deteriorated and the recent PIMS report has proved he is suffering from a serious breathing problem.”

Earlier, the former minister held a meeting with the party’s Sindh chapter leaders and its candidates from Karachi for the upcoming local bodies polls in the city.

Marathon rallies in 17 cities

Meanwhile, under a well-conceived move to mobilise the masses, the PTI anno­unced the schedule for its chairman’s marathon public meetings in 17 major cities.

Imran Khan would kick off the campaign from Rawalpindi on Sunday, to be followed by Haripur on Aug 24 and Karachi on Aug 26.

According to the schedule, a rally would be held in Sukkur on Aug 27, Peshawar on Aug 28, Jhelum and Attock on Aug 29 and Aug 31, respectively. A public meeting would also be held in Sargodha and Gujrat on Sept 1 and Sept 2, respectively, and in Bahawalpur on Sept 3, Faisalabad on Sept 4, Mardan Sept 6 and Bahawalnagar on Sept 7.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022

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