GUJRAT: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) launched its march on Islamabad seeking a date for an early election but it seems more like rallies in cities along GT Road as participants go home every night instead of staying there.

Usually the participants and leaders of such movements stay together day and night. “The party organisations and lawmakers from various cities along the route of the PTI long march have been tasked to bring people along at a certain venue and then the next day the participants come from another city,” said an official of PTI in Gujranwala.

For instance, he said, apart from Gujranwala party chapter’s efforts to bring a maximum number of people to listen to Mr Khan’s speech, people from Hafizabad, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Sialkot had been brought on different days.

It’s the third consecutive day on Tuesday that the march was in Gujranwala region and it might remain here for at least next couple of days or more which is unprecedented, said a senior administrative official who had tackled the Tehreek-i-Labbaik’s long march last year in November as well as PTI’s May 25 long march this year.

He said that last year in November the participants of TLP march on Islamabad had stayed in Wazirabad and Gujranwala region for many days and now the PTI was doing the same. He said that apart from the PTI workers in the region, the former PM would also find massive crowds in the cities and towns along GT Road.

The question remains how many people would join the long march while entering Islamabad.

A participant in the march in Gujranwala said a good number of people had been brought by a PTI lawmaker from Hafizabad, who had also arranged the packets of meal for them.

Dr Zain Bhatti, a political assistant to Punjab CM, said, Mr Khan had adopted a novel strategy of addressing rallies in major and small towns along GT Road to create hype as well as ensure a mass contact campaign.

PTI Gujrat president Saleem Sarwar Jaura said such a method to change the participants every day and avoid the night stays of workers in the march would work as the workers might not get tired up by the time of reaching Islamabad. He said the party chairman was giving time to the government to accept the demands so that the situation could remain under control.

Another PTI lawmaker said the party chairman had warned the lawmakers of losing party ticket in the next election in case of their failure to bring a good number of people.

After Gujranwala, the long march would enter Wazirabad district on Wednesday and on Thursday, it is expected to enter Gujrat from where it would reach Jhelum on Saturday or Sunday, sources said. They said the PML-Q and PTI would accord separate receptions to the long march participants.

Mr Khan is scheduled to stay at MNA Moonis Elahi’s Kunjah house in Gujrat on Thursday night. The PML-Q will accord a reception to the march at Ramtalai Chowk whereas the PTI Gujrat chapter is set to welcome at GTS Chowk almost a kilometer away from the earlier venue, said a senior official of the district administration.

He said 5,000 policemen would be deployed to perform the security duty of the long march in Gujrat district -- hometown of Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

The PTI lawmakers from Mandi Bahauddin district also have been tasked to bring the people in Gujrat to join the long march.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2022

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