Braving ban and raids, PTI rallies for Imran’s release

Published June 22, 2024
Karachi: A group of PTI workers participate in a demostration outside the press club, on Friday.—Shakil Adil / White Star
Karachi: A group of PTI workers participate in a demostration outside the press club, on Friday.—Shakil Adil / White Star

LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: The PTI staged protests in parts of Punjab for the release of incarcerated leader Imran Khan on Friday even though Punjab government had imposed Section 144 of CrPC banning rallies and sit-ins for seven days and police conducted raids on party leaders’ houses.

The Punjab police began the day by resuming raids on PTI leaders’ homes and offices in Lahore and other districts as the PTI had announced countrywide protests.

Raiding parties allegedly smashed furniture and other articles in the houses of party leaders and workers, who shared posts about ransacking on social media.

Defying the ban, the PTI leaders and workers took to streets in several cities of Punjab. Carrying party flags, banners and placards, they chanted slogans demanding Imran Khan’s release.

Party leaders assail imposition of Section 144, seek intervention of CJP after over a dozen supporters held; govt move challenged in LHC

In Lahore, they staged rallies in the constituencies of PP-163, PP-174, and NA-129. PTI Punjab General Secretary Hammad Azhar said people defied the ban.

“NA-129 Lahore again defies de facto Martial Law & illegal Curfew in Punjab,” he tweeted.

Similarly, big rallies were staged in Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Okara, Jhang, Burewala, Khanewal, Zafarwal, Vehari, and other areas.

According to Home Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal, Section 144 was imposed because of deteriorating law and order situation and security threats as any gathering was likely to provide soft targets to terrorists.

Police raided Chaudhry Mudassar’s residence in Lahore and arrested his brother Chaudhry Mubeen, advocate. Likewise, Chaudhry Nazir, Malik Allah Din, Malik Khawar and other workers were picked up in Rawalpindi. Arrests were also reported from Sahiwal and Okara.

Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and senior PTI leader Omar Ayub said Section 144 had been imposed to sabotage the party’s call for protests.

The party urged the chief justice of Pakistan to seek a clarification from the chief minister of Punjab, the interior minister and secretary over the imposition of Section 144.

According to a post on social media, a motorbike rally was also held in Rawalpindi.

PTI leader from Islamabad Amir Mughal, while talking to Dawn, said he and Shoaib Shaheen were holding a protest at Bahria Enclave when police reached there and picked up around 12 workers, adding that he and Mr Shaheen managed to escape.

Meanwhile, the party spokesperson in a statement said that by imposing Section 144, the government had deprived people of their basic right.

“The government has been violating the constitution for the last two years and there is a law of jungle in Pakistan. There cannot be any excuse for keeping Imran Khan behind bars in false and fabricated cases. It is the right of people to protest and party had decided to hold peaceful protests,” he said.

PTI central information secretary Raoof Hasan condemned what he termed “a shameful act on the part of the entire Form-47 criminal government”.

Meanwhile, a citizen, Malik Najibullah moved the Lahore High Court against the enforcement of Section 144.

According to the petition, the home department placed the ban on public gatherings without applying a “judicial mind” and without taking into consideration the fact that political rallies cannot be curtailed through imposition of Section 144.

In a separate move, the PTI while reacting to a recent interview of former governor of Sindh, Muhammad Zubair, demanded that the previous army chief, retired Gen Qamar Bajwa be held accountable for derailing the elected and constitutional government of Imran Khan.

Wajih Ahmad Sheikh in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2024

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