Uncertainty looms around twin cities after PTI’s call for protest
ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has urged party workers and supporters to stage a countrywide protest today (Friday) after police officials raided a youth convention in Islamabad late Thursday and clashed with workers as authorities banned all public gatherings in the capital for two months.
The overall political situation has become tensed after police on Thursday charged activists with batons and arresting dozens of people supporting PTI.
Section-144 has already been imposed banning political meetings, rallies and protests in the capital for two months.
However, despite a siege, Sheikh Rashid has vowed to go ahead with his plan of holding a political meeting near the Lal Haveli today.
Amid the nationwide protest call by Imran Khan on Friday, more contingents of police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) have reached the twin cities.
The entire PTI leadership and workers remain resolute & in high spirits. We will undertake the protest at all costs. 3/4
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) October 27, 2016
A huge number of the forces have surrounded PTI Chairman’s residence in Bani Gala and Awami Muslim League’s (AML) Chief Sheikh Rasheed’s Lal Haveli in Rawalpindi so that their movement could be blocked.
After Thursday’s raid on PTI’s Youth Convention in Islamabad, more than 70 FC officials had surrounded Bani Gala but they later went after studying the vicinity and more than 500 hundred activists of PTI and AML were arrested from outside the famous Lal Haveli. Police said the detentions were made after party workers and supporters violated the Section-144.
Chief Justice pls we want justice…how can govt do containerization and flout SC orders…is this not Contempt of Court??? pic.twitter.com/EfWDjYfybI
— Andleeb Abbas (@AndleebAbbas) October 28, 2016
Youth convention raid
Khan, a former Pakistan cricket star, yesterday has vowed that there would be protests against the crackdown across the country on Friday and even challenged the government to arrest him.
“Tomorrow I will protest throughout Pakistan, our workers will protest throughout Pakistan – especially over the way women were mishandled,” Khan told reporters.
“If (the) government wants to arrest me, they may go ahead, but for how long they can keep us inside, we will again hit roads after our release.”
The PTI Chairman is due to lead the protest on November 2 to demand Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down over recent family financial revelations.
PTI leaders were infuriated by the police raid, further fraying relations ahead of the planned protest.
“Police manhandled our women and our boys. Because of that, Imran Khan has called for nationwide protests,” a spokeswoman from PTI’s media team said.
It is expected that there will be a heavy contingent of police in Islamabad even on Friday after yesterday troubling events to deter protesters, with confrontation now appearing inevitable.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under growing pressure from opposition parties over his children’s offshore bank accounts that were revealed in the Panama Papers leak.
“This will be a decisive and historic gathering, people will come together with the resolve to hold the prime minister accountable,” Khan told reporters ahead of the raid but, a notification later banned gatherings in the capital for two months.
Rally in Rawalpindi
Imran Khan is also due to attend a rally for Sheikh Rasheed today in Rawalpindi. Officials, however, appear to be resolute that the ban will be enforced, setting PTI on a collision course with authorities.
“It is not legal to hold a gathering (in Rawalpindi) right now, so we will try to stop him if he tries to go there,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, the top administrative official in Islamabad.
Naeem Iqbal, a police spokesman, said that police had been deployed to surround Khan’s Islamabad home.
Authorities have blocked main roads leading to the Rawalpindi rally with shipping containers. The rally site has also been obstructed by trucks and containers, blocking PTI supporters from gathering en masse.
Sheikh Rasheed earlier today said his vehicle was confiscated by the government authorities alongside detention of his security staff.
Just now My drvr,Marof, my security staf & mr Sauleh Khan arested by police, also car in thr custody. I m safe & will reach Lal haveli at 2.
— Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (@ShkhRasheed) October 28, 2016
A high-profile Scandal
Names of several Pakistanis including Nawaz Sharif’s children Maryam, Hussain, and Hasan surfaced in one of the world’s biggest ever data leaks through an online searchable database made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in April 2016, following which the prime minister had formed an inquiry commission to probe his family’s alleged links to offshore accounts.
Unfortunately, the federal government and the opposition could not agree on drafting joint terms of references (ToRs), which would probe Panama Papers Leaks.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) also failed to probe the case.
The PTI will now stage a protest sit-in in Islamabad on November 2. Khan has warned PML-N of stern consequences if the government tried to stop PTI’s peaceful protest by any means, urging people in the country to support PTI in its drive against corruption in the country.