‘PAT’s participation in Nov 2 lockdown unconfirmed’

RAWALPINDI: PTI is likely go solo for its Nov 2 ‘lockdown’ of Islamabad, as its ally, Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), is still waiting for a response on its conditions for participation and has not made preparations.

A PAT leader told Dawn that at a meeting in Lahore on Oct 27, PAT told PTI that its workers would participate in the protest if PTI took the party into confidence on all decisions about the protest and the situation that may arise after it.

He said the party would continue its moral support for Imran Khan but if PTI succeeds in forcing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign, the party would make all decisions after taking the PAT into confidence.

The PAT leader said the party had not asked its workers to prepare for Nov 2.

“It is not possible for the party workers to go to the venue without directives from the party leadership,” he said. “There has been no preparation in Rawalpindi region.”

Citing Sheikh Rashid’s public meeting in Rawalpindi on Oct 28, he said 300 PAT workers were ready to attend the meeting but were stopped from doing so after the routes heading to Lal Haveli were closed off.

PAT General Secretary Khurram Nawaz Gandapur said the party was ready to participate and was awaiting a response from PTI as to where PAT should join them.

“We gave them suggestions, not conditions that PTI should take PAT into confidence in decision making. But we are not yet clear on [PTI’s] plan for Nov 2 and how many days [it will last],” he added.

He said the plan for the protest should be discussed with allies, so they in turn can plan accordingly. Mr Gandapur said he was in contact with Chaudhry Sarwar, who had not yet responded.

He said he would arrive in Islamabad on Nov 1 and call a meeting of the party’s district and regional chapters to plan PAT workers’ participation in the protest if PTI responds to the suggestions.

PTI spokesperson Naeemul Haq also said PAT’s participation was not yet confirmed but added that PTI would go to Islamabad with its workers at any cost.

He said the protest venue had been made clear to the people and allies but confusion had spread because the party was busy handling workers arriving from across the country.

Mr Haq said Imran Khan would lead the people from Banigala on Nov 2 and all party activists had been asked to assemble in Banigala, he said.

PTI’s Rawalpindi chapter has made its own plan for Nov 2.

A senior party leader said: “We asked workers to gather at Faizabad instead of Banigala, so that the area is closed down in case the police stop Imran Khan in Banigala.”

He said local leaders and MPAs have been allocated points where they will assemble party workers to protest in case of police action against Imran Khan’s main rally.

“PTI MNA ticketholders have been asked to spend Rs200,000 on workers’ transport and MPA ticket holders or MPAs will spend Rs150,000,” he said.

Majlis Wajdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM), which allied with Imran Khan during the 2014 dharna, is not allied with PTI this time around.

“We are supporting PTI morally,” MWM spokesperson Husnain Zaidi said. “There is no contact between PTI and MWM this time around.”

He said the party that wants to go solo does not need the support of other parties. “They did not contact us and we did not go to their offices to offer our support,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2016

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