KARACHI: In its first major political activity in Karachi since May 9 incidents, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday announced that it would hold a public meeting at Bagh-i-Jinnah on February 4, saying that it was their constitutional, legal and democratic right to hold political gatherings before the general elections.

The announcement came from PTI Karachi chapter president Khurrum Sher Zaman, who is contesting from NA-241 as an independent candidate with ‘Drum (Dhol)’ as his electoral symbol after the party lost its iconic symbol ‘Bat’.

Zaman appealed to Karachiites to turn out in huge numbers to prove their support for Imran Khan and his candidates.

He said the PTI city chapter would approach the district administration and authorities concerned to seek permission for the rally as other parties were also frequently staging their public meetings.

“It’s constitutional, legal and democratic right of the PTI to stage rallies and we hope that like other parties it will also be allowed to organise such activity,” he said.

“Bagh-i-Jinnah will witness a sea of masses and the venue would reverberate with their spirit and slogans. I appeal to the people of Karachi to come with their families to show their love and commitment for the ideology of justice and democracy.”

He also warned that ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’ tactics to prevent the PTI and its workers from exercising their democratic right would prove counterproductive.

He reminded the call for November 2023 rally given by the party which was later withdrawn after police carried out a ‘crackdown’ on PTI workers.

“Karachi is the heart of PTI and Imran Khan is the heartbeat of its people,” said Mr Zaman said.

“No one can divide them. The upcoming election is the most difficult and controversial in Pakistan’s history. But despite all tactics, the PTI would emerge as the largest single party of Karachi and Pakistan.”

In November 2023, the PTI had announced that it would stage a rally near Millennium Mall off Rashid Minhas Road amid nationwide crackdown on the party following the May 9 violence.

However, a couple of days before the schedule rally, it had call off the event blaming the caretaker government for the ‘crackdown’ on its workers.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2024

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