KARACHI: The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Monday claimed that the police stopped it from staging a boat rally from Keamari to Manora and the district administration was also not granting it permission to hold a public meeting on April 28 in Bagh-i-Jinnah.

The PTI had announced that it would take out a boat rally on Monday. However, when a number of PTI workers, led by party’s provincial president Haleem Adil Sheikh and Karachi president Raja Azhar reached Keamari they were informed that they were not allowed to hold their planned event.

The party staged a protest in Keamari against what it called the “highhandedness of police” and accused the law enforcement agency of serving the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.

“Our Keamari chapter workers had planned to stage a boat rally from Keamari jetty to Manora,” Mr Sheikh told reporters. “But we were stopped. We had met all legal and required formalities before staging the rally but without mentioning any reasons, the police stopped and threatened us of dire consequences. Is this democracy,” he asked.

Haleem Adil approaches Sindh chief secretary, IGP seeking permission for April 28 public meeting

He said that the PPP was “scared” of the PTI so much so that despite being in the government for more than 15 years, it didn’t feel its political stakes safe in the province because of Form-45s of the Feb 8 elections.

“The PPP has lost not only in urban areas but was almost wiped out from rural Sindh as well. The people of Sindh are now aware that the reason behind their poverty and problems is PPP,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the PTI had raised concerns over “bureaucratic delays” in obtaining the permission for holding a public meeting at Bagha-i-Jinnah near the Quaid’s mausoleum on April 28.

In a letter addressed to the chief secretary and Sindh police chief, Mr Sheikh had referred to “unnecessary delays” in processing their application for the public gathering.

“Despite assurances from the deputy commissioner-East, there is still a delay in processing of the application,” said the letter.

“A reminder was issued on April 1 as the original public gathering date was April 21, which was approaching rapidly. Faced with continued delays, PTI-Sindh decided to reschedule the public gathering to April 28 to allow sufficient time for permissions. However, as of April 15, we have yet to receive a response, raising fears that the event may face deliberate obstacles,” Mr Sheikh added.

Mr Sheikh emphasised that obtaining permission for the public meeting was not only a legal right but also guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 17 and 18, which ensure freedom of association to all citizens.

Expressing frustration over the reluctance of district administration to grant the permission, the PTI appealed to the chief secretary and inspector general of police for urgent intervention.

Mr Sheikh reiterated that the purpose of the public gathering was to engage in peaceful political activities, conducted in an orderly manner without disrupting public affairs.

He stressed the importance of addressing these concerns promptly to ensure that the PTI-Sindh could exercise its democratic rights.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2024

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