LAKKI MARWAT: Activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) held workers’ conventions in different districts while police launched crackdown against them in Swat and Upper Dir, arresting scores of them.
Official sources said that around 60 PTI workers were arrested in connection with the party convention held a day earlier in Upper Dir, whereas in Swat party sources claimed the arrest of around 200 of its activists. On Sunday, conventions were held in Karak, Swat and Abbottabad.
The PTI Karak chapter held a workers’ convention in Karak city where a good number of workers holding party flags gathered and raised slogans in favour of party chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan.
PTI central senior vice president Sher Afzal Marwat was scheduled to arrive in Karak to attend the convention but he did not reach here. Abdul Malik, a close aide to Mr Marwat, told Dawn that police had barricaded roads on several points when they left Islamabad for Karak.
“We tried our best to reach the venue of the convention but the closure of roads by police left Mr Marwat and his companions with no option but to return to Islamabad,” he said.
However, the PTI activists did not surrender before the restrictions imposed by the local administration. They participated in the convention held at the residence of a local leader Khurshid Khattak.
Sher Afzal Marwat addressed the workers virtually, while other speakers included regional president and former MNA Shahid Khattak, district president Inayatullah, Muhammad Khurshid, Azmat Ali and Sanaullah. They alleged that obstacles were being created for PTI to run its election campaign smoothly.
In Khwazakhela, Swat the PTI Malakand division held a workers’ convention.
PTI claimed that police conducted raids on the residences of its members, leading to the arrest of over 200 local PTI leaders and workers.
Also in Upper Dir, where the convention was held on Saturday, the police arrested 60 PTI activists.
Local police told journalists that cases were registered at various police stations of the district against several PTI leaders and workers.
In Abbottabad, the Galiyat police raided PTI leader Ghazanfar Ali Abbasi’s house on Saturday night and unconfirmed sources say the PTI leader was arrested.
The workers’ convention in Khawazakhela took place at the residence of Advocate Ali Shah Khan in Jano Kachigram area.
Leaders from Malakand division, including former MNAs Junaid Akbar and Salimur Rehman, former MPAs Fazal Hakim and Shakeel Khan, Mingora mayor Shahid Ali Khan attended the event.
PTI workers actively participated in the convention though the Khwazakhela police raided the convention venue, removing chairs while instructing them not to organise public meetings. The leaders said a deliberate effort was underway to sideline the PTI and its chief by influential figures.
Our correspondents in Lower Dir, Swat and Abbottabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2023