PTI’s lockdown plan: PAT, PML-Q yet to decide on active participation

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) have yet to confirm their active participation in the 2 November Islamabad lock down call by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. 

On October 24, PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri accepted PTI chief Imran Khan’s request to join the protest drive but excused his own participation due to his commitments abroad.

According to insiders, the PAT’s participation will be nominal to merely abide by the party leadership’s assurance given to PTI chairman unlike its active participation in 2014 sit-in protest.

Talking to Business Recorder, PAT spokesman Ghulam Ali said that the party was still discussing the level of participation in the November 2 protest.

However, he added that as the government has blocked entry into Islamabad from the rest of the country, only its workers from Rawalpindi and Islamabad will participate in the protest under the leadership of party secretary-general Khurram Nawaz Gandapur and senior leader Omar Riaz Abbasi.

About the possibility of Dr Tahirul Qadri’s return to the country, he said, “We cannot say definitively at this time as he [Qadri] may take a decision to return based on the evolving situation,” he added.

When asked why PAT workers are not visible at present, PAT spokesman said that the party leadership has given an assurance for November 2 and the workers will show their presence on that day.

He also acknowledged that the participation of PAT, in terms of numbers, may be more limited because of the absence of Dr Tahirul Qadri but added that workers would come out as per the directives of the leadership.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has so far not indicated any practical support to the beleaguered PTI workers other than to condemn government highhandedness.

Talking to Business Recorder, senior PPP leader Naveed Chaudhry said that the PPP strongly condemns the use of force by the government on the peaceful workers of the PTI, adding the PPP and the PTI have a common stance on the issue of Panama papers. However, he said that the party would not practically take part in the PTI’s November 2 lockdown plan of the federal capital.

He added that the PTI did not consult the party leadership prior to announcing the decision to lock down Islamabad on 2 November but added that the PPP has announced 7 November as the deadline to the government to meet the four demands articulated by the party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

“If these demands are not met by the deadline the party would take to the streets to press the government for an early election in the country,” he added.

When contacted, Pak Sar Zameen Party (PSP) spokesman Iftikhar Aalam, said that his party is against the use of force against peaceful rallies by any political party, adding the party leadership has already expressed its moral support for the PTI protest.

He pointed out that in democracies, every political party has the right to peaceful protest and the use of force is not acceptable in any situation. “It only happens in dictatorial rules to use excessive force on political workers. The arrest of [PTI] workers and placing containers to block roads are against democratic norms, that is not acceptable at all”, he said.

However, he said that the party leadership is keeping an open eye on the situation and any decision in an “extreme” situation will be taken through mutual consensus.

Business Recorder made several attempts to contact Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) spokesman Senator Kamil Ali Agha but with no response.

However, later talking to reporters PML-Q senior leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said that more than 800 PML-Q workers have been arrested in the ongoing crackdown, adding despite massive arrests, the government would not be able stop the “flood” of people on November 02.

He said that it was time that all the opposition political parties should come forward and joint struggle for the sake of country. “The rulers have to go now…it’s for the first time that a serious national security has been committed,” he said, while referring to a planted news story that also led to resignation of Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid.

“How could a minister stop news from publishing in any newspaper when it is passed by the top leadership,” he added.

The PML-Q leader also strongly condemned the “hostage” of PTI chairman Imran Khan at Bani Gala as well as arrest of workers and use of force, adding PML-Q’s MPA Waqas Mowakil was also under “siege” at his residence.

-Business Recorder