PTI workers criticise leadership’s decision to postpone Nov 2 ‘lockdown’

Policemen play hockey with sticks and plastic water bottles after PTI chairman Imran Khan called off his protest on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Policemen play hockey with sticks and plastic water bottles after PTI chairman Imran Khan called off his protest on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

RAWALPINDI: Disappointed by the postponement of the Nov 2 “lockdown” of Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers have said the party wiped away the workers’ effort with their decision.

Soon after the decision was made, local party leadership returned to their homes to avoid questions from workers and supporters about the dharna morphing into a thanksgiving event, or youm-e-tashakar.

Five MPAs and PTI office bearers from the Rawalpindi district confined themselves to their homes and switched off their mobile phones.

A PTI MPA from Rawalpindi city said he switched on his mobile phone to find “more than 2,000 messages on Whatsapp and Viber” from workers and supporters asking for reasons. “As we were unaware about this, we opted to stay silent,” he said.

Local party leaders retreat to their homes to avoid workers’ questions

He said the party failed to mobilise workers and supporters in the district because of negligence, and only 1,500 people arrived in Banigala despite the call from the party’s chairman, Imran Khan.

“The party received 80,000 votes from NA-56 and the same in NA-55, but we failed to bring half of them to Islamabad. The party chief had no choice but to announce the dharna had been postponed, to save face and welcome the Supreme Court,” he said.

The MPA added: “The party wanted Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, as it told party members, but suddenly changed the plan and agreed on the terms of reference for the Panama Papers leaks.”

Dhoke Hasu resident and PTI worker Mohammad Abbas said: “After over a week of drama, the party wasted the time and efforts of active workers in the garrison city and suddenly changed the plan.”

He said next time the party leader should give a call with a clear vision for the future, and added that the party had disappointed its workers with its decision.

“All the local leaders in Rawalpindi are divided and failed to make contact with the workers. I faced baton charge and my friend was arrested by the police, but the local leaders failed to respond to calls,” Malik Abid, a Shamsabad resident, said.

He said his friend’s father managed to bring him home without any help from the PTI leadership, and told him not to go out with PTI workers again.

Meanwhile, some workers believed that Imran Khan’s public meeting in Parade Ground would be held, but participation would be limited to workers from Islamabad and those coming from Lahore.

The PML-N in Rawalpindi, however, claimed residents of the twin cities refused to respond to Imran Khan’s call for a lockdown.

Former MNA Malik Shakil Awan said the efforts of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan bore fruit, and the PTI’s adventurous plan fizzled out because of his strategy of patience.

“Imran Khan’s PTI tried to make it a confrontation of the federation and KP and Punjab and KP, but the interior minister foiled his attempt,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2016

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