Qadri distances himself from Imran’s Raiwind march

LAHORE: In a significant development, Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehr­eek (PAT) has distanced its­elf from the Pakistan Tahre­ek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Raiwind march.

Mr Qadri announced on Saturday that the PAT would not participate in the PTI’s Raiwind march as it might lead to siege of the private residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Qadri has supported the stance of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid which had opposed staging a sit-in outside the Jati Umra residence of the premier.

“We are not in favour of marching on even our biggest political opponent’s residence as it is the ruling party that is known for attacking its opponents’ houses,” Mr Qadri said in reference to the killing of his 14 supporters at the hands of police allegedly at the behest of the PML-N government.

Talking to reporters at his Model Town residence, Mr Qadri said despite immense pressure from workers and leaders the PAT had decided not to be part of the Raiwind march. “The second phase of the Qisas Movement will be announced after an antiterrorism court’s verdict on our petition to register an FIR against the rulers. A very important development is about to take place in the next few days,” he said.

Imran Khan has already withdrawn his party’s earlier plan to stage a sit-in outside the Sharifs’ residence in Jati Umra on Sept 24 on the wish of ‘like-minded’ parties. The PTI chief has now announced that he will hold a rally in Raiwind and not lay siege to the premier’s residence. The party will announce a new date for the protest in a few days.

Interestingly, PM Sharif would have been abroad had the PTI pressed ahead for the Sept 24 protest plan. Now the PTI’s Raiwind march is being rescheduled to dates when the premier will be back home.

Mr Sharif is leaving for the US on Sept 16 to address the UN General Assembly session.

Mr Qadri’s announcement has sparked speculations that differences have emerged between Mr Khan and Mr Qadri over taking their Panama Papers-specific accountability and Model Town killing-related Qisas movements along to put pressure on the Nawaz government to act. Both parties had staged a joint sit-in in Islamabad over alleged rigging in 2013 elections.

Interestingly, the PTI has not yet invited the PAT to its Raiwid march.

“It is true that the PTI has not yet invited PAT to the Raiwind march but we have made our decision keeping in view the sentiments of workers about the rulers who are involved in the killing of 14 PAT workers. Our workers are charged and we do not want to put them to test,” PAT information secretary Noorullah told Dawn.

Answering a question about any differences between the ‘political cousins’ or this was a part of their strategy, the PAT leader said: “There is no such case.”

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2016

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